Adversarial or Redemptive?


Once in a while, I am asked to mediate a case that is on a Fresno court calendar. The court will actually spin-off a case where they feel mediation is a better option compared to entering the adversarial court option. Normally, these cases come through the Dispute Settlement Center in Fresno.

I was asked to mediate between two families entrenched in conflict. They both had hired attorneys, filed suits/counter suits, and they were ready to go to court. I can’t tell you the details but it started over something very minor in my opinion. None-the-less, the minor became major to the point of their willingness to go to court over it and spend a lot of money on legal advice and representation.

The night of the mediation came, the families came including fathers, mothers and children, and the attorneys came. I asked the attorneys to sit in the back and they complied.

I started with a simple process. First, guidelines on how we are going to talk to each other. Second, asked everyone to be constructive and they agreed. Third, talked about what happened including each person sharing what he/she did to make this conflict escalate. Fourth, talked about what we needed to do to make things as right as possible. Fifth, talked about what we can promise that will help each other have a clearer picture of what the future relationship looks like. In theological terms, what we simply did was confession, atonement, and repentance.

By the end of the evening, the attorneys were utterly amazed at the progress, reconciliation, and forgiveness that took place in their midst. In fact, they suggested the court date be cancelled and . . . they waived their fees!

Could it be what God has modeled and taught us to do really works? Hmmmmm . . .

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - GK Chesterton