If you’ve said The Lord’s Prayer lately, you’ve recommitted yourself to seeking God’s will and bringing His Kingdom to earth, as it is in heaven. Have you taken a few minutes to consider what that might look like? When we, as Christians, set out to build the Kingdom of God here on earth, we encounter conflict. One day, we know we will see all the conflict end. Until then, all the ground we gain for Christ requires a lot of hard work and discomfort.
Conflict looks like a puzzle that has been dumped out of its box and onto a table. Pieces go everywhere. What you see is chaos, clutter, and confusion. More importantly, when you look at the pile of unattached pieces, you cannot see the big picture. The task of putting that puzzle together seems insurmountable to some.
So let’s say that the pile of pieces represents the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Our insurmountable task is to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, as stated in Matthew 6:10. We have to get “up close and personal” with every single puzzle piece, individually examining and categorizing them. We have to start fitting one piece into the next, and into the next, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. That’s conflict, and it’s for a greater purpose.
“Healthy Conflict” is a term thrown about in leadership training and team-building. Conflict, done in a healthy way, is positive, and grows relationships and organizations. Think of the process of putting together a puzzle. It’s challenging to fit the pieces together, but ends up with a rewarding result.
The good news is that we have clues as to how to fit these pieces together. We have colors, shapes, and patterns. And God has given us clues about coming together too. See Romans 12:4:
“For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”
Each of us is a piece of the puzzle. In order to know where we fit in the overall picture, we have to understand God’s purpose for our lives. You may have taken personality assessments before. I utilize two well-known assessments in my coaching practice (MBTI and TotalSDI). Taking a spiritual gifts assessment is helpful, as is prayer. And practicing your gifts within a community of believers will further help you distill your purpose.
Knowing Your Piece
The first step to take is to understand YOU. What are your strengths? Your motivations? Your personality? Your gifts? But if we stop there, we are at best, self-centered. Our natural inclination is to view the world through the filters of our own personality and experience. We even expect others to act like we do, or think like we do. We tend to surround ourselves with people that look just like us. And what happens? Well, imagine you’re a puzzle piece surrounded by pieces that look like you. I doubt you’ll be able to create more than just one small section of the puzzle.
When we stay in community with people who do life exactly as we do, we may be comfortable. But we lost perspective of the bigger picture, and are unable to experience the growth we want in our relationships, teams, organizations.
I believe God wants us to outgrow our comfort zone.
Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8 MSG)
What this tells me is that left to our own devices, we tend to orient our lives around the desires of our hearts. And that is what brings about the weeds. But when we allow God into our hearts, we become aligned more to His will for our lives.
Your Perfect Fit
Back to the puzzle. Look at your piece. See that lovely protrusion on your left side? Your flat right side? Clearly you’re not looking for someone with a flat right side. Your fit is someone with an indention on their right side!
You find your perfect fit when you look for, and accept, diversity. This is powerful, and it makes perfect sense. The person you need to round out your team or your ministry should be different. Enough with the cookie-cutter approach to building leadership teams!
Here’s the crux of Healthy Conflict. Your section of the puzzle will share enough similarities that you have common ground. In the Kingdom of Heaven, we all believe in Jesus as our Messiah, and know our salvation is based on faith in Christ alone. That’s our common ground. And just like that, we keep moving forward, toward completion of the puzzle.
Peace in the Body
In Ephesians 4 we read that God has equipped us, here on earth, for the work of the ministry. And that in order to form the picture of the perfect body of Christ, each part of the body must be joined together “held together by every joint” and that each part must work properly. And when we find all of the pieces of our body, and we join together properly, we will see more clearly the picture that our puzzle maker has set before us.
Have you ever purchased a puzzle, spent a ton of time putting it together ONLY to find you’re missing a piece? As we build out the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, we have to place our trust in the puzzle maker. God did not leave a single piece out of his puzzle. All of us are accounted for. There’s more than enough room in the puzzle for each of us, and we all play a critical role, designed personally for us, by God.
When conflict is done well, it’s healthy for the organization. No matter your strengths, gifting, and purpose, you have a place in the puzzle. One that will bring you peace, and further the Kingdom.
Do you want to explore your own purpose, or design a team-building exercise for your team? Contact me to get started!