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Cubicles & Christ: In Pursuit of Spiritual Authenticity
Seven Steps to Manage Workplace Conflict God's Way
October 02, 2018 Kelley Johnson

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:05Hello and welcome to keep a close and Christ Kelly Johnson, certified leadership coach and founder of be well. My soul is on a mission to encourage and inspire you to be spiritually authentic and thrive in life. Let's join the conversation with Kelly now.

Speaker 2:0:24Why can't we all just get along? Workplace conflict. We've all had it. I've had it. You've had it. We're going to have it in the future. Today. We're going to talk about the seven ways to handle workplace conflict in a more godly way. Be sure to come over to the Cuba for Christ community, a private facebook group, and let's have a conversation about this. Before we jump into today's episode. I'm so thankful that you're here and I want to ask you to please subscribe to this show on apple podcast, Google play and Stitcher, and feel free to leave a review. I would love to hear from you. All right. Let's dive into the conversation. Most of us do not enjoy conflict of any kind. It can be messy and unpleasant to deal with. It's hard enough to manage in our own personal lives or personal relationships,

Speaker 3:1:23and so when it comes to conflict at work, it seems like out of all the places that we live our lives, surely this one place, surely work could be just one place where conflict doesn't show up. After all, we're at work to get a job done. It seems like we should just be able to keep it strictly business and everything will be fine. The truth is we all have our triggers. We all have. Our idiosyncrasies are biases that determine our preferences, workstyle even our quirks and our behaviors and those show up at work. When a colleague does something or says something that goes against the grain of how we are personally wired, we inevitably have a conflict and I think it's important to note that we can have conflict with a coworker and never actually verbalize it. You know the coworker or executive that like totally rubbed you the wrong way.

Speaker 3:2:25While you may have a smile on your face in the meeting silently, an inwardly, you know you could be rolling your eyes every single time. That person says something. Let's be clear, this isn't healthy or productive behavior rolling our eyes stifling amone inwardly every time someone walks in a room or attends a meeting that can be draining and exhausting. We know this, but when we feel right or justified in our response to the person, it be very difficult to change how we react. Have you ever thought about workplace conflict, corporate politics or just plain old offish drama through the Lens of your relationship with Christ? I have and I can tell you that how I handle workplace challenges today is very different because of my spiritual growth. Let me just give you a little bit of insight. I'm going to tell you a story of the young me and the older main, so when I was just starting my career, the young me was professional almost all of the time until you hit one of my triggers.

Speaker 3:3:44Back then, my filter was not the greatest and I would say things without thinking very much about my delivery. It didn't happen very often, but I remember one time totally losing my cool in the middle of the office. I didn't necessarily say anything inappropriate, but I did raise my voice rather loudly in front of several coworkers. I cringe thinking about it. It was not good, so let's fast forward about 20, 25 years later and the older me is still a pretty straightforward what you see is what you get kind of person, but I have learned a thing or two about managing my delivery of what I want to say or what I need to say and I've also learned that it's a really good idea to take workplace conflict to the Lord. One of the most difficult lessons I had to learn when I was in a very toxic work environment, and this by the way lasted for quite some time, but there were a few people in my division who were major contributors to the toxicity and we weren't big fans of each other to put it mildly, low and behold, but what does the Lord allow to happen?

Speaker 3:5:02You guessed it. We get assigned to work together on a very important c suite level project. In fact, I was expected to help some of the toxic people look good in front of several key executives. Of course, I knew I needed to pray about the situation and I also knew that I really didn't want to approach or go through this entire project, gritting my teeth the entire time. Later, I'll share the outcome of this situation, but that experience was such a vivid example of how the Lord provided me with an answer to a very real, very stressful workplace issue and he gave me the answer through scripture. He also required me to make a significant personal change, so it is within that spirit of looking at to find real world guidance on how to handle workplace conflict and that's what I want to share with you today.

Speaker 3:6:06Conflict, whether minor or major, whether short term or longterm it is going to come up at work. It's practically impossible to avoid and I think this is just one prime example of why being spiritually authentic at work is so important. Think of the hypocrisy we can display when we get angry. If we say we are a Christ follower, but we respond in anger just like everyone else, what message are we sending to nonbelievers or to those who have left the church? There's an expression that says, the best witness of our faith is our behavior. This doesn't mean that as Christians we can never make mistakes. Quite the contrary. We will absolutely make mistakes, but the key differentiators should be in my humble opinion, that when we do make mistakes, we have to take responsibility for setting things right and in that with the Lord would want us to do. Today I want to share with you seven very practical ways we can take a godly approach to dealing with workplace conflict. Please be sure to stop by cubicles and Christ.com where you will be able to find a quick reference guide to the Scriptures and study guide that I'm about to share with you.

Speaker 2:7:28Yeah,

Speaker 3:7:33so here we go. The seven ways to handle workplace conflict in God's way. Number one, don't focus on your coworkers faults. Matthew seven verse three says, and why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own. We are all sinners. As I mentioned earlier, we all make mistakes every single day. I know that I need God's grace to cover my shortcomings, but isn't it really interesting how quickly we want the Lord to pull his grace from people we don't like? Do we want him to pull his grace from us? I don't think so. I know I don't, so take a hard close look in the mirror before you spend too much time thinking about what Debbie, Jim or Bob did at work number to be angry but don't sin. Ephesians four, 26 says, and don't sin by letting anger control you.

Speaker 3:8:35Don't let the sun go down while you were still angry. I love how this verse gives us very simple and practical insight into what it looks like when anger crosses the line to sin. Did you catch that in the very first phrase? It says, don't sin by letting anger control you. So the test, how we make the distinction between anger in sinning because of our anger, it's when our anger towards someone actually dictates our behavior. That's when we've crossed the line, so use that as a guide. It doesn't mean that we can't be angry. It doesn't mean that we won't or can't be frustrated, but it's our response and the degree to which we allow it to control our behavior and actions and words that crosses the line or determines if we crossed the line into sin. Number three, pray and ask for guidance and wisdom.

Speaker 3:9:35In Second Chronicles, Chapter Twenty, we have one of my personal favorites, a passage about what it looks like to seek the Lord in a really difficult situation. For the sake of time, I won't read the entire chapter, but I encourage you to do so. Here's the quick version. Basically, King Jehosaphat of Judah was in a really bad place. He had armies from three other nations marching towards Judah ready to fight him and his people in battle. Needless to say, they were going to be outnumbered. Three different nations, three different sets of enemies. Jehosaphat was terrified and called on the Lord. In verse 12, he says, Oh our God, won't you stop them. We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help. In another translation, jehosaphat's is said to have said, our eyes are upon you, and I love that because it's such clear description of what it looks like to truly wait on the Lord and just look only unto him for our solution.

Speaker 3:10:57There will be times that some of our coworkers or maybe even a boss will mistreat us. They may even attack us, but we have to use King Jehosaphat as an example of what it looks like to seek the Lord for Guidance and wisdom. King jehosaphat called a fast and prayed. He gathered all the people together, and more importantly, he didn't move until the Lord answered him. In other words, he didn't take matters into his own hands. Number four, approach in love. So what if the Lord leads you to address the conflict with a coworker? I mean like have a heart to heart talk. I've had to do this several times and it's never really a lot of fun. I'm just being honest. If you find yourself in a situation where the Lord is leading you to go and have a conversation with someone, what we like to say, courageous conversations in corporate America.

Speaker 3:11:57Let me just remind you of step number one, which is to not just look at your coworker or your boss is faults. We have to look at our own and during a courageous or challenging conversation, it's really important that we also own up to our part of the conflict. Be Straightforward and just fess up, own up to your own part of the equation and how you are maybe slinging a little dirt yourself. I'm just saying, Galatians chapter six, verse one gives us beautiful advice. It says, dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path and be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Now, I know, I know some of you are probably thinking, well, that coworker isn't even a believer, so I don't have to do this.

Speaker 3:13:01No, no, no, no. We don't get off that easy. Unfortunately. What I think is really important that is mentioned here in Galatians chapter six verse one is look at the nature. Look at the the approach that scripture tells us to approach someone during a courageous or challenging conversation. It says, we should come gently and humbly and basically helped that person get on the right path. Now, how often when we are angry at someone or when we are in a serious conflict with someone, how often do we really want to approach them gently and humbly? Uh, not very often on my end, but this scripture is an important reminder of what we need to do to prepare ourselves for those difficult in challenging conversations that we may need to have. And sometimes that may mean that we have to wait before we can have the conversation.

Speaker 3:14:02We have to make sure that we have really devoted the issue to prayer and reflection. And we probably also need to make sure we've had a good old fashioned just cooling off period as well. Approaching in love, which is step number four is really important, but know that it probably is not something that you can do just within a really short term turnaround time. Okay? Timing is important. Number five, bless them. As I look back over my career, which spanned 25 years in corporate America where I eventually became a vice president within a fortune 500 company, I have to be honest with you and tell you that number five, blessing them is probably the first step that I learned about how to manage conflict in a godly way. First Corinthians chapter four, verse 12 says, we work. We're really with our own hands to earn our living.

Speaker 3:15:01We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. Now, there's so much here that is really, really interesting. Most of us are pretty familiar with Romans chapter 12, verse 14, which says that we should pray that God will bless those who persecute us. I really like what Paul writes in, First Corinthians chapter four, verse 12, because he's talking about working hard now Paul and the other apostles are, are talking about the work that they're doing for the Lord to preach the Gospel, but he says, we work. We're really with our own hands to earn our living, and that is what we do today with our jobs, with our businesses. And he goes onto say, we bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. So keep that in mind. If you have a situation, a conflict, maybe someone is persecuting you at your job, maybe someone is abusive at your job.

Speaker 3:16:05Now, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't follow the proper channels, the proper authorities. We should absolutely speak up if we see something or if it's personally happening to us. However, in the instances where a law is not being broken, um, it might just be a conflict that's happening in the workplace. I do think that it's important to pray for the colleague or the coworker that's causing us grief and to ask the Lord to bless them. I can personally tell you that I have been in meetings and literally praying in silence during the meeting and the course, the direction of the meeting has shifted and changed and I believe it's because I was praying during the meeting and I was asking the Lord to bless the individual or the people that were in the meeting with me and so sometimes we can see God's hand move literally in the moment, but we have to ask the Lord to bless our coworkers.

Speaker 3:17:13Bless our managers and our executives. Bless the CEO of your company. If your company is struggling financially, pray for every single board member. Pray for every single executive and c suite officer. Perhaps the Lord will improve the financial stability of the organization that you work for, which in turn will benefit you and other coworkers. Number six, surrender the situation to the Lord. Romans chapter 12, verse 19 says, Dear Friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the scriptures say, I will take revenge. I will pay them back, says the Lord. So number five and number six are similar, or they're actually linked. When we bless our coworkers, when we bless our managers and leaders, it's a way to allow the Lord to handle the situation when we say, Lord bless so and so, bless him, bless her. What we're really also doing at the same time is we are surrendering the outcome of how God wants to resolve that issue in his own way and not our way and when we bless individuals, it does release the Lord to move on our behalf, but if we're trying to control the situation and if we are trying to make sure that our point is being made and heard, then we really are handcuffing the Lord's ability to move on our behalf.

Speaker 3:18:58So surrender the situation to the Lord and trust that he will take care of you, that he will be your rear guard your front guard in your side guard number seven. Last but not least, be a friend. Now, I know you're probably thinking Kelly did. Did you mess up here? Did you get off track? You're talking about workplace conflict and now you're talking about be a friend. I know, I know. Bear with me, but this is the one drum roll please. This is the one that I had to learn the really, really hard way when I shared with you the example of the toxic people in the workplace that I actually had to help. This is exactly where the Lord brought me and it's straight out of proverbs 18 verse 24 and this is the new King James version. It says, a man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Speaker 3:20:01Now, when I was dealing with my difficult situation and basically letting the Lord know, hey, I don't want to go through this whole experience, really biting my tongue, gritting my teeth. I just want to move past this difficult situation. It wasn't very long, probably a matter of a few days, maybe a week or so, but the Lord brought me to proverbs 18, 24 and I got really stuck on the fact that if a man wants to have friends, we must first be friendly. We must ourselves be friendly and the Holy Spirit really convicted me. You're talking about people who are toxic, meaning I'm going to the Lord and I'm telling the Lord, Oh, these people are so toxic, but I really felt the Holy Spirit convict me and say, well, how friendly are you being to these people? It was not easy, and so in case you're wondering how the story ended that I shared earlier and that I referenced earlier, it was by learning proverbs 18, 24.

Speaker 3:21:10I learned to be friendly towards those who were not friendly to me. I wish I could say that we became bff, best friends forever, but we didn't. Things did improve to a degree, but through that experience, I was reminded of the very important lesson that we can only control our own behavior. I gained significant satisfaction from doing what I believe the Lord had led me to do. I was thankful that the Holy Spirit would speak to me so plainly through scripture. When we walk in obedience, we will have the victory, but just know that that victory doesn't always look like what we think it should. We can't control others and I know, I know there are times when we all silently want the Lord to zap somebody on the forehead for just a moment, even though we don't want him to personally zap us for all of our mistakes, we just have to recognize that when we do the right thing, when we are obedient to what the Lord is requiring us to do, we have to look for our validation to come from Christ.

Speaker 3:22:22Our validation, our recognition, our acknowledgement that we did the right thing will not come from the world is just not going to happen. Sometimes it will, but generally speaking, they won't. Nor should we necessarily be looking to the world to validate us doing what the Lord says that we should do. There may be even some people who laugh at us doing the right thing, but we can take confidence in what scriptures tell us in Psalm 23 as we get ready to close out today. I just want to read Psalm 23 to you and I want to encourage you to come over to the cubicles and Christ community on facebook and let's talk about workplace conflict. Is this resonating with you? How have you learned to walk in a more godly way at work, even through challenging circumstances, through periods of conflict with coworkers or supervisors? I would love to hear from you. Please join me and hundreds others over in the cubicles in Christ community on facebook. Let's get ready to close out with psalms 23. The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows. He leads me beside peaceful streams. He my

Speaker 2:23:46strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me. Your Rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My Cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Gracious Lord, we just thank you for your word and for your promises. We thank you that our cup overflows with blessing. We thank you, Lord, that you will prepare a feast for us in the presence of our enemies at work. Outside of work. We thank you, Lord that your Rod and your staff protect and comfort us. We thank you that you are close beside us, that you're with us in the valley. You're with us on the mountain. Thank you for renewing our strength today. Thank you for guiding us along the right path so that we can bring honor to your name. We love you. Lord. We bless you and we praise you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Speaker 2:25:25Until next time, we will see you back here on the first and third Monday of every month with the brand new episode of cubicles and Christ right here on apple podcast, Google play and stitcher. Be sure to click subscribe and please leave a review. I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1:25:48Thank you for joining this episode of cubicles and Christ. Be sure to visit, be well, my soul.com for fresh, biblical inspiration and practical ideas to thrive in life. May you grow in peace, love, and soul prosperity.

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