Gina-McClainA few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead a breakout session at Lifeway’s Kids Ministry Conference 2012 titled, The Non-Confrontationalist’s Guide to Confrontation. Last week, we posted here reason No. 1 you want to lean into conflict. You can catch up here.

Today, let’s address reason No. 2:

Conflict Hinders Collaboration

Don’t be deceived into believing that a small conflict has a small impact. A small conflict grows over time. It slowly erodes trust between team members. If not addressed, it becomes the purple elephant in the room that everyone knows is there but no one wants to talk about.

Here is what I know about purple elephants …

  • Purple Elephants are easier to wrestle down when they’re small.  The longer you ignore it, the bigger it gets.  Don’t wait.
  • Purple Elephants never leave.  Purple Elephants have a nasty habit of following you around.  The context might change.  The conversation might change.  But the Purple Elephant remains.  They’re annoying that way.
  • Purple Elephants are obvious.  Everyone else can see them.  They’re just waiting for you to do something about it.

Purple Elephants impact your team’s ability to work together. They hinder your team’s ability to truly celebrate wins. If you value working together, then helping them to resolve conflict (address purple elephants) is critical.

Lead through conflict by teaching those around you to:

  • Clear the air earlier than later. Keep a short account.
  • Care more about the bigger objective than the little irritations.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 says…

“Two people are better than one. They can help each other in everything they do.  Suppose someone falls down.  Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn’t have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!”

We are created to work in community, to collaborate. When conflict is left unattended, it hinders collaboration. People work side-by-side, yet remain isolated in their endeavors. That’s a sad picture.

Action Step:  Revisit the list of conflicts you documented already. Consider how much is not being accomplished today as long as the conflict continues to grow. Now … Write out three things that can be accomplished when the conflict is resolved.

In part three of this series, we’ll unpack reason No. 3 to lean into conflict.

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children’s ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tenn. For the original article, visit

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