Hungarians have a saying: “A fejétől bűzlik a hal” (A fish rots from the head down). Organizations are full of sinners, so some amount of conflict is inevitable. But if leaders themselves stir up conflict or cannot handle conflict well, the entire organization will suffer – and it will rot from the head down.
As missional entrepreneurs who are trying to make a profit, make disciples, and make a difference, we seek the “still more excellent way” of love mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
This way includes growing in our ability to build unity and deal biblically with conflict.
Over the next few weeks, we will address the topic of conflict, focusing especially on the leader’s responsibility to identify, resolve, and prevent conflict. As we begin this journey, let’s take to heart a few critical scriptural perspectives that guide us in addressing conflict:
- Whether in a community or a missional enterprise, if leaders think of themselves more highly than they ought and don’t truly value the functions various people play, the organization will suffer.Romans 12:4-5 – Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
- Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, and the Lord has gifted each of us with unique gifts, talents, and abilities that can serve the organization and the greater good. Communicating this truth with sincerity of heart is critical to building unity.I Cor. 12:4-6 – Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
- False humility and false pride can hurt both a body of believers and a business.I Cor. 12:14-15, 21-22 – For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body… The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.
If it’s true that a fish rots from the head down, we hope this series of articles on conflict will help us to avoid the rot – and offer tools to help build unity and a team spirit that will spill out into the community. These articles draw from 45 years of experience in business, coupled with Biblical instruction about how to conduct ourselves in conflict situations. But ultimately, only the Lord can provide the discernment we need to tackle the unique conflicts we face.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1 (NIV)
It is good and pleasant when God’s people strive for unity in every setting – including missional enterprises. Let’s pray this week for God’s supernatural guidance in developing unity in the enterprises he has entrusted to us.