Reflections

A Magazine of Theological and Ethical Inquiry from Yale Divinity School

Be Quick to Listen … and Slow to Judge

With a historic commitment to peacemaking, the Mennonite Church USA has created a document called “Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love” that outlines approaches to conflict. It includes:

In Thought:

  • Accept conflict – Acknowledge together that conflict is a normal part of our life in the church. See Romans 14:1-8, 10-12, 17-19; 15:1-7
  • Affirm hope – Affirm that as God walks with us in conflict, we can work through to growth. Ephesians 4:15-16
  • Commit to prayer – Admit our needs and commit ourselves to pray for a mutually satisfactory solution (no prayers for my success or the other to change but to find a joint way). James 5:16

In Action:

  • Go to the other … Go directly to those with whom we disagree; avoid behind-the-back criticism. Matthew 5:23- 24; 18:15-20
  • … in the spirit of unity – Go in gentleness, patience, and humility. Own our part in the conflict instead of pointing out the others’. Galatians 6:1-5
  • Be quick to listen – Listen carefully and summarize what is heard before responding. Seek as much to understand as to be understood. James 1:19; Proverbs 18:13
  • Be slow to judge – Suspend judgments, avoid labeling, end name calling, discard threats, and act in a nondefensive, nonreactive way. Romans 2:1-4; Galatians 5:22-26
  • Be willing to negotiate – Work through the disagreements constructively. Acts 15; Philippians 2:1-11
    • generate options for meeting both parties’ needs (rather than defending one’s own way)
    • evaluate options by how they satisfy all sides
    • collaborate in working out a joint solution (so both sides grow and win)
    • cooperate with the emerging agreement (accept the possible, not demand your ideal)

In Life:

  • Be steadfast in love – Be firm in our commitment to seek a mutual solution. Be stubborn in holding to our common foundation in Christ. Colossians 3:12-15
  • Be open to mediation – Be open to accept skilled help. If we cannot reach agreement among ourselves, we will use those with gifts and training in mediation in the larger church. Philippians 4:1-3
  • Trust the community – If we cannot reach agreement or experience reconciliation, we will turn the decision over to others in the congregation or from the broader church. Acts 15
  • Be the body of Christ – Believe in and rely on the solidarity of the Body of Christ and its commitment to peace and justice. 1 Corinthians 6:1-6

Source: Mennonite Church USA. For more information see mennoniteusa.org/peace or call 866-866-2872.

Issue Title: 
Let's Talk: Confronting Our Divisions
Issue Year: 
2018