Anytime you put people together, the edges begin to fray. Little things get on someone's nerves, people see the same events differently, and our preferred relationship styles conflict. The spark of conflict is unique in the way it comes to life; logic, motives, and facts are minor players in this scene. Relationship conflict bubbles and burns with a life of its own, creeping along the way into the fibers and corners of our lives.
I often calculate relationship power as inversely related to the pain they cause. The closer the conflict is to personal values, priorities, and things that define self worth or esteem, the more powerful and insidious the differences are and will continue to be long after the spark has vanished.
When I first came to London there were a couple of my key staff who found my working style very difficult. They did not understand it, could not come to terms with it, and found themselves grasping for something to guide them in their responsibilities. I should have seen it, but for reasons I now do not understand I was blind. During a training event a year ago, we openly discussed and explored our various working styles and the implications on others. The conversations were candid, safe, and inclusive. People talked about the whys and others educated them on what happened as a result. In the end, different sub groups reached an agreement on how they wanted the relationships to work going forward.
The people who found my life the most stressful are now my closest partners. We rarely see life the same way and we value that difference. We often find the others way of working strange, yet know that the result to come will make us stronger.
I find the same is true when I talk with others about God. People often see a different side of God's face. Paul suggested that I “welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do.” (Romans 14.1) The sum of our journeys often paints a bigger picture of God.