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Conflict: To a Young Leader (2)

. 5 min read

Children,
1 Samuel 17 (David and Goliath)

Message, 2 Timothy 2.8 – 3.9
September 1, 2013

It is Labor Day weekend. 
It’s the first long weekend in the school year.  It’s the last weekend party of the summer
season.  Football is getting
started.  Sometimes we forget that this
holiday has its roots in conflict, the conflict between labor and management, a
story full of violence, exploitation, politics, power, and conspiracy.  Happy Labor Day!

Today we are not going to be discussing the appropriate role
of labor unions in our time, though that is an important question worthy of
vigorous – and civil – debate.  Today, we
are going to talk about leadership and conflict. 

            It is a workplace
issue
, whether we are labor or management, whether we’re in a small
business or a non-profit, whether we find ourselves in an established
institution or a start up. 

            It is a family
issue
– when we’re encouraging dad to give up his keys; when we’re
surprised by the terms in grandma’s will; when domestic violence erupts; when a
sister or brother, a son or a daughter, struggles to get their lives together
and comes back – for the umpteenth time – for help that you just don’t want to
give. 

            It is a church
issue
– no examples needed!  Suffice
to say, the apostle Paul, writing to a church full of conflict and seeking to
end some of it, actually admits, “Indeed, there have to be factions among you,
for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine” (1 Corinthians
11.19).  I appreciate the realpolitik
recognition that a Christian theological response to conflict is not so simple
as “Why can’t we all get along?”

            Often
enough it is an internal issue. 
In the book of James, we read: “Those conflicts and disputes among you,
where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war
within you?” (James 4.1).  Far too
frequently, our stress level is caused by our own desires, contrary to one
another and impossible to satisfy all at once. 
We’d like to blame someone else for that, but that’s another desire that
doesn’t really help, isn’t it?  And, it
is where the practice of leadership truly begins – in healthy self-awareness,
one of the four pillars of leadership development in the Jesuit tradition
(Christopher Lowney, Heroic Leadership).

We are going to talk about leadership and conflict, and
focus on the advice Paul gives to Timothy, a young leader in the church and one
of Paul’s proteges.  In the first part of
the letter, which Mark Dodson shared with us last week, we hear Paul reflect on
legacy – the legacy of the faith that goes back to the beginning of time, the
family legacy in Timothy’s mother and grandmother, and the legacy of the church
– as Paul teaches Timothy, so Timothy is to teach others.

1.         Focus on the big picture

            Mission, vision, values
            Paul in
prison:

                        “But
the word of God is not chained.

                        Therefore,
I endure everything” (2 Timothy 2.9-10)

            Colin
Powell
and Ronald Reagan (Global Leadership Summit, 2013)

                        Chinese
investment

                        Squirrel:
not my problem

            Benefits:

            Perspective
regarding what is truly important

            Perseverance
(and courage – David v Saul) through resistance

            Integrity
for tough decisions

                        “People
will be lovers of themselves, money, … pleasure” (3.2-4)

                        Leaders
have to be willing to be wrong, to be disliked

2.         Steer clear of stupid stuff

                        not
a kind word, but Paul uses it!

            “Have
nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies” (2.23)

            Greek terms
of insult: moron (root of our English), ignorant, c/rude

            wrangling
over words (2.14), semantics, tomato-tomato

            profane
chatter (2.16), devalues other people, ideas, contributions

            must not be
quarrelsome, but kind (2.24)

                        “He
who loves a quarrel, loves sin” (Proverbs 17.19, NIV)

            Aesop: much
outcry, little outcome

3.         “Pull weeds” (Liz Wiseman, Multipliers)

            Hymenaeus
and Philetus, “upsetting the faith of some”, 2.17

            Jannes and
Jambres (Moses, earth swallowed, “folly plain”, 3.9)

                        “Avoid
them!” (3.5)

            Multipliers:
Bloom Energy, K. R. Sridhar

                        green
tech start up, no prima donnas

                        team
is more important than individual

                        who
we are together (values) than the bottom line

Review and prep for Holy Communion:

            As
disciples of Jesus, this is the BIG PICTURE

            Steer clear
of stupid stuff … practice reconciliation

            Pull weeds
… in our own lives – Eucharist and church discipline

Resources:

Colin Powell, address given at Global Leadership Summit 2013
(Willow Creek Association).

Liz Wiseman & Greg McKeown, 2010, Multipliers: How
the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter,
New York: HarperBusiness, pp 53-55.

Christopher Lowney, Heroic Leadership
Aesop’s Fables