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Relationships: Separate the people from the problem.
Interests: Focus on the interests, not the positions.
Creativity: Brainstorm creative options for solving the problem.
Standards: Agree on the standards you will use to solve the problem.
We've already looked at the first three concepts. Now let's look at the last concept: standards. We must agree on the standards you will use to solve the problem.
My brother and I are only a year apart, and when we were little, I remember an argument we had over who would get the last piece of cake on the cake tray. So, my mom gave me the knife and said, "You choose where to cut the cake, and your brother will choose which piece he wants." You can bet that I made sure that piece was cut right down the middle.
The two parties in a conflict have to agree to what exactly constitutes a satisfactory resolution to their issue.
So, let's wrap up this five-week LeaderLines series. According to the book, Getting to Yes we must focus on four things in conflict resolution -- and in this order: relationships, interests, creativity, and standards.
All four principles can be found in one story in the Bible: the time when Daniel was faced with a situation that would have compromised his obedience to God. As a young Jewish man, Daniel wasn't living in the Promised Land. Jerusalem had been destroyed, and Daniel was among a great number of Jews who had been taken into Babylonian exile.
There the king ordered that some be set aside for training in Babylonian literature and language so that they would be equipped for leadership. Part of this training involved food rations from the king's own table.
This was a great honor, except eating some of that food was prohibited in the Old Testament laws. Daniel brought this up to Ashpenaz, the king's chief official in charge of this project. The Bible says that God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but nevertheless, he was reluctant to give Daniel's request special consideration. He said, "Why should my king see you looking worse than the other young me? The king would have my head."
So Daniel suggested a test: For ten days Daniel would be given nothing but vegetables and water instead of the rations from the king's table. Then the official could compare how they were progressing up against the other young men in the training. This was done, and after ten days the official and his guard found Daniel looking even healthier and better nourished than all the others; and so they continued to Daniel the food he requested.
Now, in that story you can see all four of the principles we've talked about these last five weeks in LeaderLines. Daniel already had a favorable relationship with Ashpenaz, and he focused on the relationship. This led him to identify the interests behind the positions. Daniel's interest was to obey God's law; his guard's interest was in keeping his head! This led Daniel to propose a creative solution that set a standard: Give us the food we request, and evaluate us in ten days. After ten days, you be the judge. Daniel focused on Relationships, Interests, Creativity, and Standards.
God has provided a way for our conflicts to result in beauty. He wants us to look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. As leaders, he wants us to find -- or help those we lead to find -- a win-win solution.
LeaderLines is a weekly "e-briefing" providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.