SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2013.
BUILDING CONFLICT FIREWALLS IN THE CHURCH
AS people interact in a setting like the Church, they are bound, knowingly or unknowingly, to fall into conflict situations. This was strengthened by Tella, Awoyele and Alani (1991) when they observed that: ‘where two or more persons interact for a longer time, conflict is inevitable.’
According to Rensis and Jane (1976), conflict is defined as: ‘the active striving for one’s own preferred outcome, which if attained, precludes the attainment by others of their own preferred outcome, thereby producing hostility.’
Understandably, therefore, every individual encounters at least two or three disputes, either at home, work, social outings or even when we sleep in our bedroom without talking to anyone. We must, therefore, admit that ‘conflict is an unavoidable concomitant of choices and decisions. The problem, then, is not to court the frustrations of seeking to remove inevitability, but rather , trying to keep conflicts in bounds; in time, expenses, efficacy and humaneness’ (Adapted from Zartman, 1997, pg. 197). The engineer is not afraid of friction that is why oil must be present for lubrication purposes.
It has been argued and rightly too that sometimes conflict may arise as a result of people’s style of administration, greed and insatiable nature of human beings involved, insubordination to constituted authority, power tussle, pride and arrogance (a feeling of self sufficiency) among others. The Church of God should not allow herself to be distracted. After all, her mission should be to prepare people and make them candidates for heaven. Any attempt to derail her should be resisted.
Consequently, some of the ways the Church can build firewalls against conflict now include: to spend more time in prayers and the study of the word of God, encourage team work, ensure that there is delegation of duty and recognition of people’s gifting and potentialities, emphasize mutual respect — one to another because respect they say ‘is reciprocal.’ Also, it is good to encourage the use of ratio, especially when there are things to be shared to avoid heating the polity, and then practical steps should be taken to satisfy people’s needs, Abraham Maslow’s great theory of motivation is a sine qua non to this.
Again, contentious issues should not be allowed to get off hand, but dialogue should be encouraged. People should also learn that there are some issues that are best handled by neglect or silence or at worst; we can confront the problem because sometimes, escapism may not be a good solution. Added to the above, regular communication should be put in place to avoid misunderstanding of any type as when they are not handled properly may degenerate into a conflict situation. St Paul will add that: ‘love is an essential ingredient in human dynamic relationships,’ his treatise on I Corinthian 13v4-8 is highly instructive.
The likely positive effects of conflict on the Church include: It increases burden for prayer, it exposes a sore point on a lingering issue(s) and when ably resolved, could enhance growth and spirituality.
On the other hand too, the negative effect of conflict on the Church regrettably includes: slows down progress and spiritual growth, if unresolved, sometimes may lead to litigation and worst still may involve physical or bodily harm. We pray God to help His church rise above every conflict situation.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.