Dealing Gracefully With Conflict
We don’t like to talk about it. In our ministries we avoid it like a plague, assuming that the issue might simply disappear from lack of attention. If we’d be honest, however, we’d admit to ourselves that avoidance is not the solution to this very natural part of our service. The resolution of conflict, that nasty eight letter word, has continued to elude even the most experienced teachers since the beginning of time. If only we would open our eyes to see that God Himself has already laid out the blueprint for conflict resolution in a way that everyone wins.
It’s true. If we had it our way, every Sunday School class would go smoothly with no resistance from our students. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. As a result, parents need to be alerted of particular situations or circumstances that arise in our classrooms. Now here’s the disclaimer: when discussing behavior issues with parents, you must tread very lightly! If the force of your tread exceeds that of a feather blowing in the wind, it’s almost inevitable that the parent will become offended.
When dealing with parents, it becomes especially important to remember these three things. First, they need us. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be dropping their children off in our classrooms. Second, we need them. Their support of our ministry is vital to the success of our kids ministry. Lastly, they are human. They get weary just like we do. Hearing that little Billy is acting up again does not always provoke a desire to discipline him and can even cause a parent to question what it is about our teaching that is causing Little Billy to act up in the first place.
Keep it Biblical
When conflicts do arise with parents, whether it’s due to a child’s behavior or a disagreement elsewhere, it’s important to address the conflict according to the Word of God. Matthew chapter 18 teaches us how to handle such issues with love and integrity. The first step is to prayerfully address issues just between the two of you. This can be the hardest step but one you will not regret in your pursuit towards reconciliation. By heeding this first step alone, many issues are resolved.
In the event that a parent is unresponsive, you will have to move on to step number two which involves you approaching the parent with a witness. Keep in mind, however, that the witness should be an unbiased party. Perhaps a teacher assistant who has special knowledge regarding the situation. Still, if that doesn’t prove effective, it will be time to discuss the issue with your pastor. If the problem persists after that, and it oftentimes won’t, the Bible gives a mind blowing final step that is certain to extinguish the problem once and for all. Are you ready for this? Here it is… Let it go! If a parent isn’t interested in resolving the conflict after multiple interventions, it might be in your best interest to move on.
When the first step is handled properly, it almost never becomes necessary to move down the list. Even though a parent might be uncomfortable with a particular situation or circumstance, they will respect the fact that you approached them in a way that is non-threatening and be more prone to support the success of your ministry.
We invite you to see a list of all of Madalyn’s blog posts on Sunday School Zone.