About three-weeks ago I was informed of a problem with a wall our church shares with a neighbouring property. Whoever built it originally didn’t put a column, or steel rebar into the wall itself. Because of this, the wall was weakened on the neighbours side.
If we didn’t deal with the problem, that wall could fall on someone, and seriously hurt them.
After discussing it with church members and having two meetings, we hired a local Believer to tear down the wall, and then build it back.
I drove to a nearby friends house Tuesday morning to pick up a shovel. And upon returning found the neighbour standing in the road shouting very loudly.
Evidently some of her plants had been cut so that the wall could be torn down. She was very upset because nobody called and asked permission to cut the plants. I could understand her frustration, but also realised the plants had to be removed in order for the wall to come down.
I jumped out of my car (leaving it parked in the middle of the road) and walked over to the neighbour. As we discussed what had happened, and she vented her frustration, things began to calm down.
The entire conversation took about ten-minutes, and we haven’t had a problem with her since.
The interesting thing is many Vincentians didn’t understand why I didn’t shout back at her, and am even planning to buy her a replacement plant with my own money.
The answer is very simple…..
As a missionary I am called to bring calmness into conflict.
Sadly the normal way to deal with a conflict in my community is not to meet with the other individual. Instead you stand about seven feet from them and shout loudly enough for people up and down the street to hear. It’s not uncommon to see individuals standing in the road involved in a very loud argument.
This should NEVER be the response of a Christian!
Instead we calm the situation
- By listening carefully to their complaint
- By understanding what the real problem is
- By apologising for our part in the conflict (even if they had a part in it as well)
- And by doing what it takes to make things right
It isn’t just about calmness though…..
Christians bring calmness to chaos because our public testimony for Christ is more important than being “right.”
I could have argued with the woman, and explained the plants had to be removed in order to break the wall down properly. But it would have done great damage to my testimony in the community.
When dealing with conflict, the question we must ask isn’t “who is right?”, but “how can I make this right?”