Donald Miller said the module Managing Conflict is the most important one of the whole STORYLINE CONFERENCE. People tend to seek comfort, security, and stability, and therefore, avoid conflict.
Donald lists the top three reasons that conflict is good:
1. It lends value to our ambitions; when something is hard to attain we value it more,
2. It creates a bond between people; we grow together in trust and affection when we share hard experiences, and
3. It causes a person to change; only conflict changes a character in a story. If the character is a jerk at the beginning of the story, the only way he can become a good person is to endure conflict. Without conflict, people become sedentary and spoiled.
However, Donald cautions that we can’t let conflict defeat us. There are practical ways to keep our stories from becoming tragedies:
1. accept that conflict is a part of life; make friends with conflict and don’t wish it away,
2. know that there will be failures in life; it means you are being tested and more value is being placed on your ambition,
3. anticipate the conflict before it comes, and,
4. learn from your tragedies.
For each Ambition, Donald had us list physical and financial challenges, skill deficiencies, relational complications, and the characteristics that we need to develop to overcome conflict.
In examining my Ambition of sharing the Good News through writing, photography and speaking engagements, I wrote down these conflicts:
1. physical- I still take a drug to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer and a side effect is joint pain. Periodically I have a flare of joint pain that limits my activity. (Thankfully it should be discontinued this September!)
2. financial- I’m not well-known, so my writing and travels are self-funded.
3. skill deficiencies- I don’t know anything about shooting a promotional video and am still learning about using social media to spread the Good News.
4. relational complications- Some people are critical of my faith and writings; particularly the transparency with which I am sharing my life and dreams.
5. characteristics I need to develop- I need to not take it personally when someone does not like a blog post, or argues with me about something I’ve written or a presentation I’ve given. I welcome differences of opinion; that is how we learn. But some criticisms have been ruthless and demeaning. Others are jealous of my success.
Now that I’ve worked through anticipating potential conflicts, I feel a breath of fresh air; when conflicts come I will be ready to face them!
As you sort through your ambitions, what are the conflicts you anticipate? Accept them as a part of life and learn from them.