The Redemptive Power of Invitation

Nothing is reconciled until someone invites.

I am confused over two positions I often hear among believers.

People tell me they want to restore broken relationships, but then they add, “Not now.”

Excuses range from: I am not ready, they are not ready, it is not the right time, coming together will only make things worse, conflict will take care of itself, or time heals all wounds.

Here’s another excuse.

I received an email from a pastor who experienced conflict with a few church elders.

The elders eventually left the church.

The pastor invited them to come together to discuss the conflict.

The elders stated they had “prayerfully considered the suggestion for further discussion and collectively agreed that the cause and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ in the community would be impacted in a negative manner by any more discussion.”

Instead, the ex-elders started another church.

Actually, reconciliation would have had the bigger impact in the community.

Frankly, there is a huge disconnect in what we say we believe and what we do.

This is particularly true in our approach to resolving conflict.

We know what the Scriptures teach: “go” to the other party whether we are the offender or the offended (Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:15-20); reconciliation of relationships is a prerequisite to worship (Matthew 5:23, 24); deal with today’s anger today (Ephesians 4:26); live in peace (Ephesians 4:3); and seek agreement (I Corinthians. 1:10).

We know Jesus is especially with us during the process of reconciling relationships (Matthew 18:20).

We even know that peacemakers in God’s Kingdom are blessed and identified with the Most High God of Peace (Matthew 5:9).

There is no logic to this disconnect between what we know to be true and how we actually live.

Dr. Jerry Sheveland, President of the Baptist General Conference, makes an important point regarding the best time to resolve conflict.

He simply asks, “Why wait for a harder moment than this one to begin a process of honesty and grace . . ?”

Now is the time for reconciliation.

Don’t wait for a more difficult opportunity.

There is no hope of reconciliation until someone invites the other party into a process of restoring the relationship.

Someone has to do the work of invitation.

Why not now?

Stop Lying to Yourself and Start Reconciling with Others.

Ten Guardian-Lies 

or "Why I do not have to reconcile"

Disclaimer:  There are interpersonal conflicts that are sometimes intractable based on criminal felony offenses, years of abuse, deep emotional wounds, and the like.  I am not writing about those types of complicated conflicts.  I am writing about the normal routine conflicts that people bring into New Path Center every week.

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As a result of serving as a mediator over the last 20 years, I've noticed a pattern.  Sometimes, when I invite conflicted clients to enter a reconciliation process, the clients, along with several other clients, give amazingly similar irrational responses.  I hear the following responses over and over again.  Hence, I have learned to recognize these repeating phrases as "guardian-lies."

A guardian-lie is any belief that hinders a person from moving forward.  People are stuck NOT because of any outside force beyond his or her control.  People are stuck due to their own belief and choice.

(1)

Here are some of the most common guardian-lies that I hear.  These lies keep people from moving forward to reconciliation.

I choose to remain stuck in conflict because:

  1. I know the other party will not want to reconcile.
  2. Even if the other party says they want to reconcile, they are not showing enough sincerity, remorse, humility, forgiveness, (and so on).
  3. Reconciling will only be a waste of time.
  4. We have tried to reconcile in the past but it has never worked, and it won't work this time.
  5. Any more contact with the other party will only make it worse.
  6. There is nothing we could possibly do to make it better
  7. The other party knows what they did wrong, they need to come to me.
  8. If I have wronged someone, they have the responsibility to come to me.
  9. I'm just going to avoid being around the other person.
  10. The other party is "crazy!"

1. Dr. Ed Smith, Theophostice Prayer Ministry, adapted by Tony Redfern

We got issues!

.

we+got+issues.jpg

What exactly are we fighting about? Our ability to clearly state what the issues are will help us to determine a redemptive outcome. Broadcasting a generalized judgment or labeling can bring more confusion, tension, and escalation to the conflict.

If we can determine the kind(s) of conflict we have entered, we will have a better chance to realistically resolve the conflict.

Dr. Ron Claassen brings the following insights to help us define our conflicts.

Ron writes, "As we move down the list, it will likely be more difficult to resolve the conflict constructively. It is not impossible, but will require more planning and perhaps outside help."

Space

Schedule

Methods

Procedures

Personal Preferences

Traditions

Customs

Values

Beliefs

What are we fighting about? Determining the level of conflict on the above continuum will help us to determine a strategy to find resolution.

.

When we talk, are we using a hammer or a saw?

.

Debate

v.

Dialogue

is like a sledge hammer v. a logging saw.

In a debate, one person uses debate like a sledge hammer against the other person. Then the other person reacts and does the same thing.

In a dialogue, they use dialogue like a two-person logging saw that takes cooperation to work.

Here's a quick contrast between

Debate

and

Dialogue

:

The goal is to "win" the argument by affirming one's own views and discrediting other views.

v.

The goal is to understand different perspectives and learn about other views.

People listen to others to find flaws in their auguments.

v.

People listen to others to understand how their experiences shape their beliefs.

People critique the experiences of others as distorted and invalid.

v.

People accept the experiences of others as real and valid.

People appear to be determined not to change their own views on the issue.

v.

People appear to be somewhat open to expanding their understanding of the issue.

People speak based on assumptions made about others' positions and motivations.

v.

People speak primarily from their own understanding and experience.

People oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong.

v.

People work together toward common understanding.

Strong emotions like anger are often used to intimidate the other side.

v.

Strong emotions like anger and sadness are appropriate when they convey the intensity of an experience or belief.

Excerpt taken from The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subjects, A Practical, Hands-On Guide, by Lisa Schirch & David Campt., Page 9.

New Path Center’s Guide to Giving & 2009 Annual Report

Is your contribution to New Path Center tax-deductible?

New Path Center has been recognized exempt by the IRS

under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code since December 2004.

Donors’ contributions are tax deductible as provided in section 170 of the IRS Code. A copy of New Path Center’s IRS Letter of Determination is available upon request.

New Path Center is required to file annually an IRS 990 Form.

New Path Center’s current IRS 990 can be found at

http://www.guidestar.org/

or upon request.

Two ways to donate:

1. Make your check payable to New Path Center, Inc., and mail it to:

New Path Center, Inc.

PO Box 874

Kingsburg, California 93631-0874

2. Donate online at

http://www.newpathcenter.org/

Do you resonate with the New Path Center’s mission and values?

New Path Center’s mission is to be:

A safe place where individuals and communities discover reasonable, respectful, restorative, and redemptive pathways through conflict.

A place of hope for those who experience loss or other painful life transitions.

A training center for leaders and organizations to acquire a healthy readiness for conflict or the skills to companion the bereaved.

New Path Center envisions:

Communities where the citizens become responsible for positive transformation.

Communities where constructive communication thrives.

Communities that produce leaders with impeccable character.

Communities where all leaders address conflict and brokenness in reasonable, respectful, restorative, and redemptive ways.

Communities where the greater Faith Community works together.

Why does New Path Center exist?

As a community pastoral-counseling resource . . .

New Path Center brings the hope of experiencing peace with loss to those who are deeply bereaved.

As a training center . . .

New Path Center equips individuals, leaders, and organizations

to have a healthy readiness for and response to conflict.

As a mediation center . . .

New Path Center provides options for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for those who experience some form of conflict. Mediation areas of practice include:

Marital Mediation: Couples who want to stay married but have issues to be worked through, deeper understanding to be shared, forgiveness to be experienced, and agreements to be made and kept for a brighter marital future.
Separated and divorced parents: Individuals and couples who need pre/post-adjudication mediation regarding custody decisions to best meet the needs of their children.
Extended families: Members who have suffered from years of estrangement and separation, and now hope to restore the family ties.
Churches: As cornerstones of our community, churches need to respond to conflict in ways that bring hope, love, and peace to reality, to meet the needs of their members.
Family businesses and farms: The economic forces behind our community, who need to bridge relational gaps caused by conflict, to increase their potential to thrive from generation to generation.
Victims of crime and juvenile offenders: Individuals directed by the courts to reconcile offenses and make restitution, including VORP Mediation and Anger management classes for youth at risk.

Where does New Path Center work?

New Path Center works locally, nationally, and internationally.

Serves as a local mediation, training and counseling center for the greater Kingsburg area for Fresno, Kings and Tulare Counties, in central California.

Travels to other areas within California, and the U.S. to provide mediation, training, and interventions for non-profit organizations.

Provides training in third-world countries on conflict resolution, leadership development, and grief counseling.

To whom is New Path Center responsible?

New Path Center’s Board of Directors is made up of professionals from the Kingsburg community. The list of Directors is available upon request.

How does New Path Center measure its progress and success?

76 Cases in 2009: (63 new / 13 continued)

How is New Path Center funded?

Accomplishments and Initiatives:

Kingsburg Police Department Referral Program
Kingsburg School Referral Program
Discipline That Restores Training Program
Mediation for CalGRIP youth at risk
Anger Management Classes
Kingsburg Care & Service Network
Donation-based services
Professional Mediator Certification

Special Designated Funds:

Scott W. Redfern Memorial Fund: $8,750 (ongoing)
Kiln for Koln Scott W. Redfern 30th Birthday Memorial Project: $2,016 (completed)

Goals and challenges for 2010:

Fund future training overseas
Increase the General Fund
Develop software for Kingsburg Care & Service Network
Design and implement a 10-year leadership succession plan
Promote New Path Center’s uniqueness in Marital Mediation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Anger Management

The NPC Marital Mediation Agreement is designed to set a redemptive path.

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When working with couples as a Marital Mediator, it has been my experience, to be very explicit upfront about the need to experience forgiveness and agreement to avert a marriage meltdown. Hence, I use the following document as a redemptive tool to frame the mediation dialogue and to set a hopeful path to reconciliation.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

New Path Center (NPC) offers Marital Mediation to couples who want to stay married but have issues to be worked through, deeper understanding to be shared, forgiveness to be experienced, and agreements to be made and kept for a brighter marital future.

NPC encourages couples having trouble with issues of offenses and/or injustices, control, and power to use mediation to experience forgiveness and reach an agreement addressing these issues, thereby strengthening the marriage. Couples jointly hire an associate of NPC to act as a mediator, not as a lawyer or counselor for either party.

IS MEDIATION THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU?

During a series of meetings, you and your spouse work with the mediator, and on your own time, to identify issues and work out a mutually satisfactory plan to address them. This work includes exchanging any and all information pertaining to these issues, and sharing of control, power and responsibility you consider best for the both of you. You are free to consult with a lawyer, financial planner or other advisor at any time. The process is designed to help you strengthen your marriage.

THE REQUIREMENT OF COMMITMENT

Marital mediation works only if you are willing to make a good faith effort to reach forgiveness and agreement with your marriage partner. There is no legal obligation to forgive or agree. Any constructive commitment to mediation, and to make the resulting outcome work, comes voluntarily from you and your spouse. Note: “yes” answers to the following questions determine if mediation is a reasonable resource for your marriage:

Do you want a healthy marriage?

Can we talk about anything & everything?

Will you own your part in the issues?

SOME BENEFITS OF MEDIATION

The processes of forgiveness, understanding, and agreement can change behavior in your relationship. Just identifying the issues you struggle with is itself healthy. Creating personal solutions will give your marriage a greater life expectancy. Learning communication and reconciliation skills will enhance all of your relationships. Your children will thrive in the absence of parental conflict.

THE COST OF MEDIATION

New Path Center does not maintain a set fee schedule for the service of Marital Mediation. These services are provided at the NPC office in Kingsburg, CA. The amounts are only suggestions for your consideration. Please see the attached NPC “Financial Policy, Fees, & Donations” document or visit:

http://www.newpathcenter.org/resources/NPCFinancialPolicy2009.pdf

THE MARITAL MEDIATION AGREEMENT:

We wish to define the terms of forgiveness, understanding, and agreement to help us stay married, as simply and sensibly as possible. We have read the description of Marital Mediation. Each of us agrees to participate fully in this effort to define our future behavior in order to improve our marriage.

We agree to hire ____________________________ as our marital mediator(s).

We realize our mediator shall not represent either or both of us as an attorney at any time in connection with our Marital Agreement. During the mediation we agree to disclose all aspects of our marital issues. Each of us is free to consult our personal advisors at any time.

We agree that all communications in mediation, including all notes, homework, draft contracts and other writings, are completely confidential. Neither of us can seek testimony of the mediator or disclosure of their file in connection with any court proceeding related to this mediation process.

We realize the mediator is in charge of the mediation process and will give each of us equal time as much as possible, whether our sessions are together or separate, and will not take sides other than to help guide us to a reasonable agreement designed to help us stay married. We realize we are not required to mediate any issue or to reach agreement on any issue. We voluntarily enter marital mediation.

(Signature lines and contact information)

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