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.


JoJo Tabares said...

Very good advice!

heatherloub said...

You know, this is really good information. I was in a situation where there was a lot of confict and mini-groups within the support group.
I prayed a lot and the outcome was another support group formed. Instead of just confrontations with others that really were not justified. Just do your job within the group and pray. It will work out. ;)

Kristen and Denise said...

Conflict can be so draining. Prayer was essential to me as a leader through those trying times. Prayer provided that haven where I could seek sweet refuge and wait patiently for godly wisdom. It was always worth the wait! The Lord always faithfully saw us through the conflict.