Friday, 10 May 2013


In church life - or any sphere of life - one of the killers of progress is disagreement.

My favourite management expert has this wonderfully helpful and pithy insight:

"At the root of most communication problems are perception or credibility problems. None of us sees the world as it actually is...but as we are. and our experience-induced perceptions greatly influence our feelings, beliefs and behaviour.

Perception and credibility problems may result on complicated knots, what we often call "personality problems" or communication breakdowns". Credibility is far more difficult to resolve, primarily because each of the persons involved thinks he sees the world as it is rather than as he is. Unaware of the distortion in his own perception, his attitude is this: "If you disagree with me in this, in my eyes, you are automatically wrong, simply because I am sure that I am right"

Whenever we are so "right" as to make everyone who sees and thinks differently feel wrong, their best protection from further injury is to label us, peg us, to put us behind mental and emotional bars for an indeterminate jail sentence, and we will not be released until we pay "the uttermost farthing". Most credibility problems can be  resolved if one or both parties will realise that at the root is a perception problem.

Certain attitudes and behaviours are essential to clearing communication:


1. I assume good faith. I do not question your sincerity or your sanity.
2. I care about our relationship and I want to resolve this difference.
3. I am open to influence and I am prepared to change.


1. Listen to understand
2. Speak to be understood
3. Start dialogue from a common point of reference or point of agreement and move slowly into areas of disagreement.

When these three attitudes and behaviours are acquired, almost any communication perception or credibility area can be resolved."

Stephen R. Covey
Principle-Centred Leadership (1992) p109-110

What Covey does not say, however, is that at the root of this ability to resolve differences has to be a godly humility that comes from Jesus:

"3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!"
(Philippians 2 v 3-8, NIV)

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