Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I asked a fellow member of the Preacher's Coffee Group to discuss the problems she has with me. We were in the group surrounded with people who know us both and love us. She glared at me, stood up, left the room then returned to tell us that she had problems with all of us. Then she left.

I am sorry about this. I assumed that we would work out our differences and go forward.
Instead, she did the Alexis Carrington* stomp out of the room when conflict happens.

I'm just telling you about this because the PCG can't stop discussing this. I'm sorry she responded to me and us this way, realize it doesn't have much to do with me and hope she will return.

Conflict can increase intimacy. The church is full of conflict. Dealing with conflict is a frequent activity for pastors.

I'm thinking about all of this. Haven't told you many of the details but perhaps you have something to add?

St. Casserole

*dated reference to long-ago television show called "Dynasty". No one listened to anyone else. Everyone got angry before hearing all the information. People blasted in and out of rooms if they got anxious, angry or scared.


reverendmother said...

Not much of value to add--just a big ol' "yep." Hang in there, St C.

Dynasty--now that really takes me back!

ppolarbear said...

Who in their right mind could have a problem with you?

reverendmother said...

Well, something did just occur to me.

It seems in situations like that there are always interesting power dynamics at play. I don't know what she was doing to indicate a conflict initially, but I'm imagining a variety passive-aggressive behaviors. P/A people have a sort of upper-hand in those situations, by taking potshots and whatnot. By confronting her directly, you shifted the power--in a good way for your own sake--by saying "I'm going to address what's going on head-on and get this thing out in the open." And she responded by flight (leaving the room), then fight (coming back in and addressing all of you). But now the power is all off-kilter, which means there can be growth--if not within her, then within the rest of you.

I had an interaction last week with a classic passive-aggressive, or maybe just aggressive. The person came in with guns blazing, expecting to blindside me. I didn't fight or flight, just stood (figuratively) and calmly confronted the person and the inappropriateness of the behavior. The person realized I couldn't be bullied and backed down. (It was a HUGE moment for me--I hate conflict) And the initial issue got resolved peacefully.

We never know how the person will react, but I guess our job is to be authentic regardless.

Shared in the spirit of one who doesn't have it figured out, but is thinking along with you,

Quotidian Grace said...

I, for one, remember the Alex Carrington stomp. Classic. And juvenile.

Sorry about this. I'm sure it's good to know her hostility is not reserved only for you.


Songbird said...

I think you did the right thing talking about it in group. I wish the person I had trouble with in my group could have come back to talk about things, even if I was initially relieved she quit. But if we can't learn to work on these things with each other, what hope do we have to model authentic relationship in our churches? It's very hard work. I think you did wonderfully.

cheesehead said...

As my Dad would say, "You done good, kid!"

Sue said...

You did the right thing by bringing it out into the open. Now it is for her to process and work through on her own.

Perhaps when the time is right, she will be able to come back and address the group like a grown up. Who knows? She may even thank you one day for creating the right circumstances for her to deal with her issues.

I remember Alexis and her "stomps" - very 80s, very immature.

Gail said...

Wow, I'm impressed (I get coward of the year award when it comes to telling it like it is) And Passive Agressives push all my buttons...what surprises me (but shouldn't) is that this wasn't a church member but amember of your pastors' group. Sigh. Keep the faith-- as you are doing. Maybe some of us (me ) might get to do this too!!! St Snivel aka Gail

Lorna said...


conflict isn't good, but buried resentment is far worse. I like what RM wrote too- now the confront /stomp stages have happened, I believe there's time for growth, honesty and yes reconcilliation too. But it takes time.

Alexis Carrington ... takes me back. Sometimes I behave like her too. The fight /flight instincts are in us all.

Amy said...

It sounds like you would agree with my personal conclusion about conflict in the church: things directed at me are almost never really about me... they are about the fears/ anxieties/ craziness of the person causing conflict. Nice work.

My most memorable conflict story of late was when the (now former) member of the Preschool board referred to the county inspector as a n****r. I thought I was going to lose it. But I said very firmly that type of language and behavior was not acceptable. Most fascinating after that meeting were the number of people relieved I stood up to her and then removed her from the board.

St. Casserole said...

Amy, nice work.

I'm surprised when people use language like that now. Haven't they paid any attention?