Tulle Tales: Conflict in Ministry
Once upon a time there was a ministry team that planned a very special event.
They prayed and prepared and set up and decorated. They created the look and feel of a cozy coffee house, and a talented team added truly spectacular food. Everything was just right. With a couple of spare hours, the diligent team members took a break to refresh themselves before droves of delighted women would appear in the doorways.
After a time away, the decorators were first to return. They were shocked to see that the coffee house had been transformed into a something like a wedding ceremony...with frothy white tulle wound around and over everything for as far as their eyes could see.
The decorators gasped. They turned a little red in the face. They withstood the almost irresistible urge to remove every shred of tulle from their sight. They remembered that the event was about women, not decorations.
The event coordinator and leader of the food team were next to arrive on the scene. The decorators giggled when their eyes met, and each one recognized what they all knew to be true: The Tulle Toter had struck again.
Without asking. Without considering others' contributions or feelings. And fully aware that she had overstepped her tulle-toting boundaries.
She'd once demanded purple grapes when only green ones were available. Last time, she took offense when someone made an adjustment to her carefully arranged display of tasty treats.
The list of offenses was long, and time was short. What's a women's ministry leader to do when tulle is abundant, feelings are on edge and women are looking to her for a response?
She asks for wisdom.
Tense moments find relief only before the throne of grace to which we've all been invited to come. Falling in our hearts is the most productive way to keep from falling flat. Ask God for wisdom, and trust that He has already provided what is necessary
She chooses the best.
Determine what is important. Tulle or no tulle is irrelevant. What matters is people. The people who serve with you should not have to give into power plays. Welcome to leadership. It may not be a picnic, but it's ultimately up to you to decide who totes the tulle.
She confronts with love.
Not every issue that comes up will be quick and tidy. In fact, most won't. But a clear and gentle confrontation of the issue is always best.
- Keep control. Use your words and gentle demeanor to bless not hurt. Address the issue at hand rather than the person. Staying calm will go a long way.
- Speak the truth. Asking questions is more useful than making assumptions. Say what needs to be said. Identify mistakes. Take personal responsibility if necessary. Emotional outbursts won't help. Sincerity will.
- Make the call. Communicate your decision and expectations without escalating the tension. Invite consensus but don't waffle if you can't reach an agreement.
We wish conflict were never an issue in ministry. But since it is a reality, let's deal with it. With wisdom. With the best. And above all, with love. Then it's time to help put away the tulle.
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Karen True is living a story that can only be explained by the God who made her. She's led women's ministries and now serves as Contributing Editor at womensministry.net . She and her husband, Gerry, live in San Antonio, Texas and home school their two children and go to church in a barn...for real!
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