Conflict resolution. Not.

Disappointment. Unbelief. Flabbergasted. Sadness.

I don’t know how to describe my feelings after a debrief meeting about our recent Kyiv Christian Women’s Fellowship weekend retreat. For 2-1/2 hours we talked about specific things to make the next retreat better. (This is my third year serving on the committee, so these debrief sessions are not new to me). We ate fabulous chocolate cake, sipped wine or champagne, coffee, or juice. A very pleasant gathering.

The problem was that there was an issue that needed to be discussed. Nearly 1/4 of the comments written on evaluations immediately following the retreat mentioned this problem. And, yet, because it was controversial, the committee chair swept it under the rug! “It’s over already” was her solution.

This wasn’t a NEW issue — it had come up prior to the retreat. A warning that certain teachings might not be what we want to promote. But, no, “trust us.” “Trust my friend.” (NOT trust God. Or trust His Word.) I was told very clearly that I needed to back off — that this wasn’t MY club nor my retreat. Why deny OTHER women the opportunity to hear these teachings?

I was assured that this teaching would be taught in an OPTIONAL seminar on Saturday, so I could just skip it if I didn’t want to go. That seemed to be a reasonable compromise considering how close we were to the actual retreat weekend.

Well, that is not at all what happened. This teaching followed every talk that the main speaker gave. “Close your eyes. Tell Jesus what you want Him to do for you.” (As if He hasn’t already done it all!) I was totally dumbstruck. I felt ambushed. I sat through the “exercise” and couldn’t wait to get out of the room. Interestingly, I saw other women with puzzled looks on their faces asking me what had just happened in there! Not wanting to influence anyone’s thinking, I quickly headed to my room. I ran into several other confused folks and simply nodded in agreement. I skipped the game time so that I wouldn’t unwittingly say something too negative about the evening.

The next day I made a point of sitting near the exit rather than in the second row. It amused me when I saw who else suddenly chose to sit in those rows! I sat through the gobbledy-gook one more time, but I just couldn’t stay in the room on Saturday evening after the main speaker finished her teaching. When I saw her friend stand up to close out the night, I left the auditorium and read Scripture. Again, I skipped the camaraderie around the bonfire — s’mores and all — for fear that I might say something that would be misconstrued as negative.

Back in my room I had lots of visitors. And we had some great discussions. Not everyone agreed that the teaching was wrong, but those who were willing to discuss it at all DID say that they agreed that it was controversial and probably shouldn’t be part of the main content of the retreat.

Sunday morning I was surprised to be called out of the auditorium by one of the committee members. I was actually quite humbled when she thanked me for taking a stand for truth, and that she wasn’t sure she agreed with the warnings several of us gave…but she certainly had some red flags go up over the weekend and would be evaluating her notes in light of Scripture. Hey, that’s all we hoped! I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but at least do your homework! Be a Berean, for Heaven’s sake! She also acknowledged that she knew the weekend had been painful for me, and she was sorry for that.

So back to tonight. No acknowledgement whatsoever that there had been any problems with the teaching over the weekend. No acknowledgement that what we had agreed upon was not honored. No acknowledgement that there might be some validity to the concerns mentioned prior to the retreat.

Simply: “It’s over. Next.”

Whew. I resigned from the committee — before tonight, actually. Not because I disagreed with the decisions made, but rather how they were made.

Lesson learned from the meeting: If there’s a conflict, quickly pass over it. The Body will feel united, believing that maybe there wasn’t a conflict at all. The committee will believe that all is well. And life can return to normal. After all, we have two years until the next retreat.

How thankful I am to have Christian friends who will engage in meaningful discussions. Who will hold me accountable to God’s truth. Who will challenge my thinking. Who will wrestle with issues with me.

Thank you, Lord, for those friends. And for my children who have insight way beyond what I had at their ages.

And thank you, Lord, for my favorite sounding board: Jim.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. And I am encouraged by your reactions. I think I would have said something somewhere at the retreat, and that would not have been good for anybody! Be encouraged – the Lord is pleased with one of his daughters wanting to be a Berean! Wish I could be there to give a hug…

  2. Wendy: I’m enjoying a cyber hug from you…thanks!

  3. Wow.

  4. Anna: Yeah. 😦

  5. You already know what I think, girlfriend. I won’t post it here…

  6. Unbelievable. I’m kind of glad I didn’t get involved now. Sorry if that sounds mean. But I’m really sorry for what happened there. 😦 *hugs*

  7. Wow. Jeanne was telling me about this. I think you handled it really well. I was telling her I don’t think I would have done as good of a job biting my tounge. And I agree, thank God for good friends that aren’t afraid to discuss truth with you. They are truthly a blessing. 🙂

  8. Lynne: I have quoted you several times, actually!

    Emily: The weekend itself was a lot of fun… Though I purposefully removed myself from some fellowship times, I loved my alone time, discussions in my room, meeting some new folks (Hey, Sandy Bos!), reconnecting with old friends.

    Faith: Providence taught us all a lot … don’t ever take that dear church for granted!!

  9. Oh, friend. Major hugs for both you and Jeanne.

  10. Karen: Thanks, friend.

  11. That is a difficult spot to be in–being gracious yet grounded was a good approach!

    It’s sad that the concerns were ultimately passed over (swept under the rug)–there is MUCH to be said for protecting the flock/sheep!!! Clearly some folks either don’t know how or don’t understand the mandate to do so.

  12. Connie: Thanks for the encouragement. It seems that people are not too concerned with protecting the flock/sheep — everyone just needs to figure things out for themselves! I didn’t expect to convince anyone to agree with my stance on the actual issue, but I was saddened that the process of dealing with this conflict was to ignore it!

  13. What WAS the issue???

  14. Jael: This post was simply addressing my frustration of serving on a committee that, in my opinion, was not handling a situation well at all. If ever there SHOULD have been an opportunity to voice some concerns, it SHOULD have been at a debrief meeting. And then be done with it. BUT, the group chose to simply say, “next.”

    The controversial teaching is a different situation. One that I may write about at a later date. But this particular post had nothing to do with the teaching itself…and I don’t want to confuse the purpose of this post with a discussion of that topic.

    This post also is not meant to accuse anyONE of anything — simply that the committee as a whole did not function well when it came to issues of conflict. And I found it extremely frustrating!

  15. Hi…
    Probably no one will read this since I am so late in the game replying (kinda that way with the whole retreat…I only got involved in the organizing at the last minute, too).

    But, I just wanted to “publicly” (for whomemever reads your blog!) say that I am sorry I didn’t say more in that meeting. I read your blog when you first wrote it and because I thought you laid things out pretty clearly, (and not for the first time, for those that have been involved) so I really thought “what else could I say”?

    But as I have thought and prayed about it I realize I would like to add for the record my apology. Apology that I didn’t try harder to mediate an open door for discussion on the obviously controversial comments of one of the speakers at the retreat (I say obvious because of all the pre-conference concerns aired and the post conference comments given by those that attended on their evaluation forms). Not that this was my “official” responsibility in the group, but because I knew and other friends of mine were hurting by the way that the conference turned out. I knew and did very little to try and help heal. Sorry, friends.

    I tried to be a peacemaker by taking the tack of “what can we do different to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future?” But no one seemed to want to talk about this and no one commented. I understand why you didn’t comment…you already had, LOTS…before the conference, in your evaluation after…etc. But I REALLY expected someone to pick up the ball when I tossed it out there.

    I apologize that I didn’t specifically say “Well? What do you all think about all the negative comments we got?” I was sort of stunned by the lack of response, but really, I was hiding behind “keeping the peace” and wanting to be liked by everyone.

    Well…as this thing has dragged on I see, and have seen in other similar situations, as uncomfortable as it may have been, it would have been better just to hash it out right then and there. So I apologize for not trying harder to open the conversation up.

    It too is very sad to me when believers seem to not want to deal with things. (I say seem, because maybe my perspective is totally wrong. I conceded that at the outset). But like I have heard said…”Conflicts don’t come at convenient times or in comfortable ways. If they did they’d be called ‘conversations'”.

    I write this long novel because I think the ripple of effects of this conference are going to be felt in many lives for some time. Nothing is over until everyone decides to quit trying. So I think there is still time to take something that satan meant for bad and use it for good.

    I love and respect all the women involved in that conference and never hope or expect that we will all agree on everything. We aren’t trying to form a church here, or be “best friends”, but rather operate as I understand the Body should. So if a conflict can be addressed, discussed, opinions aired so that feelings can be acknowledge and spoken to…those are the things I hope for from the body of Christ….and if that doesn’t happen…welll….love believes all things…hopes all things…forgives 70 x 7.But when one or both sides says “that it…over”, then I guess you have to let go and give it to God. Just hard when the one that says “its over” is in a position to speak for many, and maybe that’s really not everyone’s position.

    Ok…rambling…

    Thanks for letting me “post” on your blog! Ha! 🙂

  16. Cara: Thanks for baring your heart. Keep praying.

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