Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Should We Break Fellowship?

The weather here has been beautiful -- perfect for walks and open windows. The azaleas have been covered with bright blooms, and the wildflowers have put on a colorful show. We have enjoyed this spring. But the days are getting warmer and those flowers are now hanging down, spent, telling us that summer is around the corner.

Seasons change within a homeschool group, too. There will be times of great growth and energy as well as cycles of pruning and rest, each with their own challenges. In times of conflict, how do we know when and where to prune for the best results?

In last week's interview excerpt, Lyndsay Lambert of the Texas Home School Coalition {shown in the photo above with her family at her son's wedding} explained the right perspective to have in dealing with a conflicting member. Today's excerpt deals with gently restoring and the difficult issue of breaking fellowship.

May your season ahead be filled with hope and joy,
Denise & Kristen

HGL: What happens if a negotiation doesn't work? You are not able to come to an agreement or the other parties just do not want to work with you. What do you do then?

Lyndsay Lambert: (continued) The next step is to think about gently restoring. You still have a problem maker, you still have a problem in your support group: somebody who is still causing problems, who did not accept the negotiations and is not happy.

The first step is to think through the situation: Is this a fault? Is this a small thing that I can overlook? Is this really a big enough problem that I have to deal with this? How can I know?

The questions to ask are: Is this seriously dishonoring God? Has it permanently damaged a relationship? Is it seriously hurting other people? Or is it seriously hurting the offender himself? If the answer to all those questions is "no" then maybe you just need to say, "Ok, that's just who that person is."

One time I was in charge of a nursery at our church. A lady came in and took charge. She just took over and started doing stuff. It offended me because it was supposed to be my job. I went to her and said, "I just want to talk to you about this; it really bothers me." After I told her all that, she said, "Oh, I really didn't mean to do that. Please forgive me." The next week she did it again. I realized this is just who she is, and I determined that I was going to overlook it. I wasn't going to hold it against her.

If the answer to one of those questions is "yes" then you need to go and talk to that person. We are actually commanded to do this. Matthew 18:15 says, "Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go to him and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained a brother." Also, Matthew 5:23 says, "Therefore, when you bring your gift to the altar and remember that your brother had something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift."

In the first verse, it is talking about if your brother sins against you. In the second one, it is talking about if you realize your brother has something against you, meaning you offended him. In both cases, the person who realizes it is the one who needs to instigate getting together and working through the issues.

Then the Scripture goes on in Matthew 18, "If he will not hear, you take one or two with you. By the mouth of two or three witness every word may be established." If going to them personally and talking to them doesn't change things, perhaps a leadership board needs to get together.

As a leader, there is a little bit of difference in individual peacekeeping and peacemaking as a support group leader. Individually, you want to resolve and never give up on finding a biblical solution. As a support group leader, there is a point at which you have to protect the group.

This means there may come a time where you have to break fellowship. The verse in Matthew 18:17 says, "and if you refuse to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a tax collector."

div>As support groups, we are not a church. However, the principles, I think, hold true. At the point he's not going to confess, repent and behave, as a leader you are responsible to protect the people in your group.

This is where I think we need to understand what the role of a board is. The role of a board of an organization is to set policies, but also in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. If you have just one leader, there is the tendency for it to be all your fault. But the answer to those who get mad at the leader is, "Our board told us that this was policy, and this is what we're going to do." It takes the pressure off of us.

In the same way, the board needs to be together before you go to somebody and say, "I'm sorry. You just cannot be in our support group anymore." It needs to be a board decision for your sake and for your protection. It is also for the understanding of the other person--that they understand that this is not a personal vendetta that you have, but that you are accountable to the whole board.

{I'm going to throw a little thing in here. I think that it's really helpful at this point to have some men on the board. They are able to bring a balance and take a stand.}

Here's the deal. You have to understand that you can work through and do everything right, and you'll still have people who will be unhappy. You will still have people who will not submit themselves to the will of the group or the will of the board. You will have people who will talk badly about you. You are going to have conflicts.

But it's not going to happen in every situation. Sometimes the Lord will change their hearts. You do need to continue to pray for these people and continue to reach out to them as much as you possibly can.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: When Negotiation is NOT Working

It is always a delight to be with Lyndsay and Tim Lambert. Their sense of humor and love for life will keep you smiling and laughing. It doesn't take long to see their passion for homeschooling. They are hardworkers who make a difference as they stand boldly for freedom. They are real heroes. (My daughter is asking what superhero powers they have! lol)

Our interview with Lyndsay was rich as she shared with us the ways to work through conflict. Kristen and I are sharing excerpts from her interview here on our blog. In parts one and two, Lyndsay explained the strategies to negotiating a win. But what if negotiation isn't working? Every homeschool group will have a season where they will face opponents bent on crushing the group's unity or morale. There just seems to be no way to win. Lyndsay tells us how to move forward to first and second and third until we have made it safely to home base.


HGL: What happens if a negotiation doesn't work? You are not able to come to an agreement or the other parties just do not want to work with you. What do you do then?

Lyndsay: One of the things you can do is agree to disagree. For example, you might agree to have a prom, and the people who don't want to have a prom just don't participate. Years ago, we had a situation. We were going to have a Valentine's party, and we had some people who didn't believe in doing Valentines. They left the whole support group. It's ok. We didn't understand why they just did not come to the Valentine's party, but they apparently had a strong conviction about it, and that was the way they dealt with it. That's fine.

However, if you have people who continue to stay in the support group, but disagree and cause problems, then you are going to have to walk through some peace keeping principles that are based on Scripture. Honestly, these principles work when you are a support group leader or a church member, and they apply when you are having problems with your husband or different relationships.

Basically, you have to view conflict as an opportunity to grow--an opportunity to please God, for us to grow, for the other person to grow and for things to get better. I think we have a tendency to want to avoid conflict. Instead, if we can use it to glorify God and approach it from the standpoint of "How can I please and honor the Lord in the situation," it will help us keep our perspective right through the rest of the process.

Next, you really have to prayerfully consider what is going on and think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. I have a tendency to think, "Ok, I'm going to let the Lord just deal with this and I'm going to go into it on the sly." But we need to prayerfully consider all of these questions:

  1. Have I caused any of this conflict? We need to look at ourselves and "get the log out of our own eyes."

  2. Have I had a critical or negative attitude toward this person? Or have I communicated that to that person? Examine your own heart.

  3. Have I had sinful words or actions? We have the tendency to look at a conflict and say, "He did this. I didn't react very well, but he was really at fault here. It was 95% him, but I was only 5% wrong. He started it, and I didn't respond well." When it's in your eye, it seems little to you. But it is big to the other guy.

  4. The first person who notices that there's a problem needs to deal with it. If you reacted wrong, that is the thing you need to deal with. If you reacted in a sinful way, you do need to go to that person and say, "Look, I'm sorry. I reacted wrong that day." You don't say, "Because you did this, I had a bad response." That is not going to go over very well or help much. I like what has--the Seven A's of Confession.

The next step is to think about gently restoring. You still have a problem maker, you still have a problem in your support group: somebody who is still causing problems, did not accept the negotiations and is not happy.

An effort at reconciliation is crucial. So, how do we gently restore??

. . . find out next week . . .

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Confronting Conflict

Homeschool leaders are sometimes caught in the middle of opposing sides. It can be difficult to umpire everyone through the difficult differences of opinion and pull them together to negotiate a solution. Sometimes homeschool leaders even have to negotiate with those opposing their own opinion. Who is going to win? How can everyone walk away feeling like they each hit a homerun and experienced a win-win situation?

For the best answers to our conflict resolution questions, we interviewed Lyndsay Lambert, a seasoned leader with wisdom gained from experiences locally and regionally.

Tim and Lyndsay Lambert have served Texas homeschoolers since 1990 as leaders of the Texas Home School Coalition. Their sacrifice, dedication and excellent example has blessed thousands here. We can credit their leadership with much of our continued freedom to homeschool in Texas.

Last week we began this series of excerpts from Lyndsay Lambert's words on confronting conflict. Today is the continuation.

Suit up to put this into practice because you just might take some hits at some point, and this will be good information to know. Be strong and stay in the game. There's a great reward in the end if you do.

Denise & Kristen

HGL: If the cause is a difference of opinions, how would you deal with those causing the conflict within the group?

Lyndsay Lambert: (continued) The "U" of the PAUSE Principle of Negotiation is to Understand their interests. You identify their concerns, their desires, needs, or limitations. Let's say, for example, that some people in the support group want to have a prom. That can be a pretty touchy situation--especially when you get people who don't believe in dancing or if you've got people who believe in courtship and guys and girls shouldn't touch each other. Then on the other side, you have people who want all of the benefits. They want to teach their kids how to do ballroom dancing and want to make sure their children don't resent homeschooling. They want to make sure that they get to have all of the different experiences.

You can see that in a situation like that you've got people on two totally different ends of the spectrum. What you have to do then is understand where everyone is trying to go. What is the goal here? What are you trying to accomplish? What are these people trying to accomplish who want to have the prom? Understand that they want their children to have a good feeling toward homeschooling and not to feel like they have missed a lot of stuff.

What you do is bring these two groups of people together and Search for creative solutions. That's the "S' of the PAUSE Principle. You have to bring them together and search for what would accomplish the goals of these two sets of people--without offending them or going against their standards.

Basically, you brainstorm and throw out all kinds of ideas and work toward something that could meet those objectives. For example, maybe one of the ideas would be to have a junior/senior banquet instead of a dance. They will still get to dress up, still get to go out with their friends, but there wouldn't be any dancing.

Lastly, the "E" of the PAUSE Principle is to Evaluate objectively and reasonably. The trick on this one is to evaluate--not to argue. What we've got to try to do is set aside our selfish desires in order to be able to come together and negotiate something that all the parties can live with.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Curveballs of Conflict

Life throws curveballs. These last couple days I have had surprising twists in my responsibilities that left me feeling like I was striking out. I have had to regroup and reprioritize to try to connect with all the things that need to be done and learn to hit all that life throws at me.

Leadership has curveballs, too. Just when you think you are in the zone and batting a thousand confidently, a twist of conflict can leave you feeling like you are striking out. You may not know how to deal with the new critical attitudes, attacks or misunderstandings that are speeding towards you. How do you as the leader deal with this menacing pitch and successfully knock it out of the ballpark?

Some time ago, Kristen and I interviewed Lyndsay Lambert of the Texas Home School Coalition asking her how to deal with various conflicts correctly. Lyndsay's years of leadership in local homeschool groups and at the state level have given her great insight to resolving conflict.

Today and each Wednesday for the next three weeks we will share an excerpt from this amazing interview. I know you will enjoy it.

To your success,

HGL: What are the main causes of conflict?

Lyndsay Lambert: I would say that the main causes are misunderstandings--differences in values and goals. Sometimes it is competition over resources. Then we have to admit it . . . it is sinful attitudes and desires. We are just sinful human beings sometimes.

HGL: If the cause is a difference of opinions, how would you deal with those causing the conflict within the group?

Lyndsay Lambert: I think that is a good question. Homeschoolers can be stong-willed and independent. I guess you wouldn't homeschool if you weren't. You will have differences of opinions because, let's say, different standards or different goals. Maybe your goal in homeschooling is not the same as somebody else's goal. Sometimes you can deal with that through negotiation. Get the parties together and talk about it and come to a point of agreement. A lot of my materials {to resolve conflict} come from They have a lot of good information on their website.

In their information, they talk about the PAUSE Principles of Negotiation.
In the PAUSE Principle, they first lay out the need to Prepare to begin a negotiation process. Prepare means to pray, get the facts, seek God and develop an opinion. The main thing you want to accomplish with negotiation is that you have got to get out of this is what I want. You need to get to the place where you are deliberately looking for solutions that are beneficial to everybody. The idea is to try to get everybody to cooperate.

The "A" of the PAUSE principle is that you Affirm relationships. This is showing general concern and respect for others. Let people know that you care about what they think, who they are. If they really understand that you're not just there just trying to beat them over the head with something and to get your way, but you really are concerned about them, you will get a lot further in your negotiation.

To be continued next week. . . .

Saturday, April 3, 2010

in the NewZone: The Beaches on Extreme Home Makeover

The Extreme Home Makeover team came to our neck of the woods recently, or shall we say more accurately, our stretch of the beach. You see, we live not far from the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston where a hurricane in 1900 devastated the coastline and took the lives of hundreds.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike barreled through our area and devastated so much of our land and homes. Countless many lost their lives that night, too.

But inside every storm cloud is a silver lining as the old saying goes, and one Texas family got the blessing of a lifetime. Be sure to watch or record the 2 hour special showing the family and their new huge home on television Sunday night!

See our leader article about the amazing build site here: