Healthy Conflict - The Value of Honesty // Anna Hellebronth

Building a team from scratch when we planted St Luke's Gas Street in Birmingham has been one of the most rewarding things I have been a part of. There’s nothing more exciting than being part of a group of people who are passionate about one thing, and ready and willing to throw themselves into it. There are lots of tools and formulas to creating a good team (I recommend ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey) but when you get past the point of building blocks, the 'whats and hows', and where things begin to roll with synergy, it’s thrilling! 
 
One of the values I wanted to establish early on was honesty. I come from a family of very strong minded, honest people! My siblings and I would have shouting matches and passionate debates which sometimes used to end with a dead arm (that’s when you really knew you had won!) Though I’m not endorsing physical violence, I strongly believe that conflict, when done well, leads to a greater sense of trust and intimacy in any team. 
 
The problem can be that most people don’t like conflict. There can so many fears wrapped up in it; rejection, exposing insecurities and vulnerabilities, what if I say something stupid, what if I’m mis-understood, what if I lose my job etc. All totally valid. But the alternative is deadly. Allowing frustrations, confusion, questions to be swept under the carpet and to simmer away is poisonous. Eventually they come out and usually, more damage is done. Frankly, I think that this kind of behaviour is irresponsible as a team member.  
 
As a team leader, I’ve tried my best to keep an ‘open door’ policy. That if anything is bothering my team, they come straight to me. This is an important point as often we can ‘test the waters’ by telling someone else first but all that does is plant a seed of negativity. Equally, I have held my side of the bargain and always been direct with team members. 
 
What helps enormously in conflict is when both parties are mature and both want a good outcome. Leave your defences at the door and listen with your heart, not just your ears. At some point, it may be that you just need to disagree but commit to each other and ’team’. One of the values in the Worship Central course session on T-E-A-M is ‘A for Attitude’. Disagreeing doesn’t mean that you have a poor attitude but being noncommittal does..

 

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Anna Hellebronth, WC Team & Gas Street Church Worship Pastor