EP 182 – THE CONFLICT CONVERSATION
Welcome back Bootcampers! We’re jumping back in on the subject of conflict, with the “other” Bob. Today the guys get down to the important subject of how to have the “conflict” conversation.
First, a little definition on one of the important characteristics of Replanters, the willingness to confront.
Willingness to Confront: the replant pastor with a willingness confront is able to willingly but not eagerly, navigate conflict with directness, love, humility, patience and wisdom, driven by a love for the church and her members.
As they jump in here’s the resource mentioned: Crucial Conversations. A crucial conversation is any conversation where you know, there will be opposing opinions where there’s strong emotions and the stakes are high.
Here are some quick insights when it comes to crucial conversations
- We need to look at an entire pattern – not just an instance
- It is important to prepare for crucial conversations
- Avoid jumping to the “worst” interpretation of an offense
Here are some tips to be more productive during times where you are having crucial conversations.
- Be self aware-know what your triggers are and what is taking place inside of you.
- Ask yourself in that moment: “Why am I feeling this way?”
- Understand what story you are telling yourself.
Avoid making the fool’s choice: which is when I believe in the heat of the moment that everything is either or.
Check out the rest of this EP for some incredible helps on dealing with conflict.
Get the help you need for your church’s website and web-presence. Our great sponsor, One Eighty Digital can get you headed in the right direction.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are. Back at it again, Bob number two. I hope you’re ready for another episode as we are knocking two out while Bickford is on the road with some family and jumping into the fun topic of conflict.
Bob Bumgarner: Awesome. Yes. Glad to do it.
JimBo Stewart: Man, we’re excited to, again, have you on, to the Bootcamp podcast. And conflict is such a key conversation that we’ve got to have. it becomes one of those things I think can so easily derail. Everything that you’re trying to do when it comes to leading a church towards renewal. And so, just as a way of reminder, we mentioned it last week and we wanna mention it again.
cause we try to tie back to the characteristics when we can. Cause so much of what we think through is how do we, how do we help pastors skill up in the characteristics of effective replants in revitalizes and one of those key characteristics. Willingness to confront the replant pastor with a willingness confront is able to willingly but not eagerly, navigate conflict with directness, [00:01:00] love, humility, patience and wisdom, driven by a love for the church and her members.
And so last week we had Bob Bumgarner on and we talked about. This idea of when church conflict happens. Really framed off of the book, with that title from Michael Hare. And we talked about levels and dynamics and how to think through this interpersonally, intergroup, and how to demystify conflict and know that it’s, it is, does not have to be an ender to everything.
And that it, as you build a culture of dealing with. Directly and with love and gentleness, then we will see that become an easier process to continue to repeat when conflict comes up. but today we kind of wanna talk about really drilling down into the conversation, like could ultimately conflict management will come to a really hard.
Conversation, and this is where you get nervous and you get scared. I think about there was a, particular [00:02:00] person that was attending our church that, so man was driving. My life crazy. and so he would behind my back talk really bad, about me and everything that I was doing, and, and so I, it came to a head.
When it continued to happen, and as you know, Bob, I read the book of Proverbs every day, whatever day of the month it is. I read that chapter and I remember I got a particularly nasty voicemail from this guy and we had been, we’d been working through a Matthew 18 church discipline process, and we had gotten to the point that we were probably gonna have to ask this guy.
To no longer be a part of our church. We’d done all the steps. We’ve had the witnesses, we’d had the meetings, we’d had all these things. and and early in the morning I wake up and I had not yet built this habit in my life, of which I have now, of, I don’t look at my phone until after my quiet time. I highly recommend [00:03:00] that as a habit.
don’t look at your phone. And this is precisely why, I looked at my phone and there was this long, nasty voicemail. and I mean, just horrible. I mean, just flat out calling me a horrible pastor and a horrible person and all these things. and I was like, all right, Lord, I can’t, I can’t call this man back yet.
I need some time on the word. So I open up Proverbs and it happened to be the 22nd day of the month. And I read out of Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 10, drive out a scoffer and strife will go out and quarreling and abuse will cease. And I thought, Amen. Yes, Lord. All right. It’s time. And, and so, so we scheduled the meeting and, I’m not normally one who is nervous about conflict as much as some, I feel fairly confident in conflict and I don’t like it, but I, I.
Feel like I can keep myself, you know, calm and we can drill down to the conversation of what we need to. And, but for whatever reason, man, this one got under my skin and I was really [00:04:00]nervous. And so I fasted for, a day or two and I. Man, you know, you can pray the Psalms of the day and there’s, you know, a whole way you can do that.
Man. I prayed every s i, you know, in, in the book about praying scripture and it talks about, you know, there’s five songs for every day and you can skim ’em and pick one and pray that, man, I prayed all five and I and I read Proverbs again and I had lots of people praying for me. And we had a meeting with me and some other elders and this guy, and had to have a pretty crucial.
Conversation. and it was, it was so hard and so difficult, and I think this is where the wheels start to fall off for a lot of pastors is these crucial conversations. And so, you know, last week you pointed us to such a great resource, Michael Hare, when Church Conflict happens, you’ve got another one for us that, I’ve really enjoyed Crucial Conversations and I love the subtitle.
Tools for talking when the stakes are high. and, and so talk to us about what is exactly, what is a crucial conversation [00:05:00] and why are they so hard?
Bob Bumgarner: Okay. Well, first of all, thanks for your transparency. I think all of us can relate. We all have those stories and some of us wish we were as spiritual as you were in our preparation for that, but, God is good even when we mess up. So anyway, but you ask a very, a really good question.
First of all, this comes from the book, crucial Conversations. There are several additions I would suggest if you’re gonna buy the book, get the final addition. They’ve got, they put some new things in there that are, are really, good. But anyway, um, a crucial conversation. Is any conversation where you know, there will be opposing opinions where there’s strong emotions.
And when the stakes are high and the stakes are high, means this, the outcome really matters. And so, Jimbo, this can, I mean, you and I get to work together, we can be having a meeting and then all of a sudden we can find ourselves in the middle of a crucial conversation. Husbands and wives can be having a nice evening at home and all of a sudden, they have [00:06:00] differing opinions and strong emotions and stakes are high.
It can be with your kids. It can, you know, so the thing that I love about this tool is that it really deals with what we have to do every day and let’s have conversations with people. I think the reason crucial conversations are so hard is because, well, number one, we don’t know how to. And so when they show up, the fight or flight brain, the lizard brain kicks in. and some of us have been brought up in homes where fighting was the thing you did. You yelled and got mad and you put somebody in their place and that’s how you quote, won the argument. or some of us have been raised in places where, giving in or being a little bit passive.
Is kind of the expected, thing. and so we choose, what’s easy, what we’re used to, over actually sharing the truth in, in love. Sometimes we do it, because we don’t have a long memory, you know, so for [00:07:00] instance, Jimbo, if you’re my pastor and someone comes to you and says, you know, Bob did something this last weekend at the D Now, he didn’t have the air conditioner on when we got back here.
You know, something like that. And, you can either immediately think, well, Bob’s irresponsible, or you can ask yourself the question, what’s Bob’s normal pattern? Of behavior when he’s doing d and l weekends and you can’t think of another time when I forgot to turn on the air conditioning or whatever.
And so sometimes because of who says things to us, we choose a recent event overlooking at the whole pattern, if you will. And then sometimes, again, going back to what we talked about a little bit last week, we end up having a difficult, a crucial conversation about a symptom and not about the root cause.
so all of those things are why it’s hard for us sometimes to have crucial conversations.
JimBo Stewart: appreciate you that you brought up that, you know, That [00:08:00] conversation I brought up as an example in the beginning, I had days to prepare, right? And I had time, and I knew walking into this, it was gonna be a crucial conversation. but I appreciate you bringing out like, it, it can happen on the spot and you.
Are not expecting it. All of a sudden something sets it off and you go, oh, oh, whoa. We have now entered into, a, a zone I was not mentally prepared for, and you don’t have time to fast and pray the Psalms and, and get a prayer people around you. and so, and I even appreciate you talking about that. You know, what is Bob’s normal pattern of behavior?
What’s their normal pattern of behavior? How do you, I think sometimes when. Take something as an offense, we will jump to a conclusion that assumes the worst motive and the worst intent of that person, or the worst interpretation of, of what they’ve said. And we think, I don’t know how to interpret this any other way than flat [00:09:00] out betrayal.
and so where, where’s that coming from and how do. In that moment, take that thought captive as scripture tells us to, and set that aside. And how do we end that moment when we, and immediately just take, IM like a offense. How do we shift that so that we know that we can have a conversation in a way that is productive and helpful?
Bob Bumgarner: Yeah. So first of all, Jimbo, you have to be self-aware, right? You have to know, why am I talking louder, , why am I talking faster? You know, why is it that I was talking about an idea and now I feel. Anger
JimBo Stewart: heat? I mean, I feel heat in
Bob Bumgarner: Yeah, yeah. , you know, so you do have to be, you have to be self-aware.
You have to kind of know what your, what your triggers, what your triggers are. And, one of the things you’re, you’re trying to do, if, if you. . you want to take control, if you will, [00:10:00] and ask your, and sometimes you can’t pause in the moment, but you have to ask your, you, you ask yourself this question, why am I feeling this way? What has just happened, and, and I know you’ve done this, I’ve done it. We’ve had a conversation in our head when something else is going on, on the outside. another thing that you, that you can do or is, is to think about what story am I telling myself? Like, wow, they just said, You know, X, Y, Z or, or whatever.
What is it that, what is it that made, that just made what he said, feel like an attack instead of something that could be, could be helpful. And so, what I have found, or not what I found, but what Crucial Conversations says is they actually call it the Fool’s Choice. The Fool’s choice is when I believe in the heat of the moment that everything is either or.
like in, in other words, I either can solve this problem or we can be friends, but I can’t do both. And so one of the things they talk about the [00:11:00] fool’s choice is what they call the elusive. so another way to manage that conversation in the middle, when you feel like somebody’s put you in an either or choice, then you can actually ask what does an and question.
Look like, you know, so in other words, hey guys, I gotta tell you, we are gonna get . For those of you who were here last week, we had a Peace Lilly illustration. So lemme go back to that. so, that’ll give you a prompt to go back and listen. But, but Jimbo, back to that particular idea, you could have said, Hey, we’re gonna get rid of the peace lilies.
or you could say, Hey, we’re gonna get rid of the peace lilies and we are still gonna, we’re gonna find a way to honor people who have been very important to our church.
JimBo Stewart: Hmm.
Bob Bumgarner: And immediately the temperature goes down on that because what you’ve done is now get this, you’ve actually by saying that you have revealed your motive. So one of the ways to deescalate a conversation [00:12:00] is to, as quickly as possible reveal the outcome you’re looking for. So in that conversation, I would’ve been revealing, I wanna do something about the peace lilies, and I also wanna be friends with you two ladies.
And all of a sudden now we can have a, a conversation.
Jimbo, one of the things that the research of Crucial Conversations has. Is that when it comes to these kinds of conversations, which you will probably have one sometime this week, you will either talk it out or you will act it out. So if you talk it out, that means that you work through the emotions of it and, and actually you can go to lunch afterwards.
Acting it out means that you swallow and you don’t talk about it, and then what happens is you begin seeing that other person through the lens. Of that conversation. So for instance, if there’s a we’re talking replanting. If there’s somebody who was supposed to do something [00:13:00] and they didn’t do it, but, and you were really counting on it, and what you don’t know is that their son got in trouble at school and that parent had to go and navigate that unexpected problem and they couldn’t order the thing or pick up the thing or be on time.
and you don’t talk it out. You never know that they had a good reason. But what you do is you begin to look at them as somebody who doesn’t follow through on their commitments, and so what ends up happening is well, not ends up happening. It’s just a truth that you either talk it out in a safe way or you begin to act it out in the way that you treat another person, the other person.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, my wife and I talk about it. We’ve learned in our marriage, so the phrase we use is, the thing is not the. .
Bob Bumgarner: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: and, so, you know, when you talk about getting to the root of the symptom and what, what’s actually happening. And what we found, as we have worked on our own marriage, helped others work on their marriages, or we have worked in replanting and we’ve helped [00:14:00] deal with conflict within the church that I was pastoring or with other churches or other, we talked.
replant your couples sometimes that are going through conflict within their church, and they’ll talk about how this person blew up about some specific thing. And what we always say is, is typically the thing is not actually the thing, whatever it was that, that, looked like the explosion may actually.
It’s really just be the tip of the iceberg. And there’s something underneath that. and so in the, in this book, crucial Conversations, they make reference to the fact that we don’t really make our decisions in those moments based on facts that we see or that we hear, but the stories that we tell ourselves about those facts drill down on that a little bit for.
Bob Bumgarner: Okay, so, one of the thing, you’re either gonna act out your, to your point, you’re either gonna act out your feelings or you’re going to talk out your feelings. And, I have found, especially in church world, we don’t [00:15:00] have a good vocabulary. For talking about our feelings. So if we are disappointed or frustrated, we don’t have good words for that.
So we say that we’re mad or we say that we’re angry. And there’s a big difference between being frustrated about something and being angry about something. So, the reason that’s important is because what they call the path to action in crucial conversations is it’s an arrow that they have that they say we hear and we hear or we see.
So, and then it doesn’t go straight to action. There are two things that happen between hearing and seeing and acting, and that is we tell a story to ourselves. And so Jimbo, if you’re a pastor and you come from another church, you’re a replant pastor. You come from another church where you’ve gotten in trouble for something that has happened, and now something similar happens.
All of a sudden you hear this and then you begin to, you replay that tape in your mind and you, you attribute motives to a story. [00:16:00] That didn’t even happen at this church. And so what happens is you begin to think these people are gonna do to you what the last people did. And so you begin to feel scared, afraid, afraid, mad, whatever.
And then your action actually is in proportion to this story that you tell yourself. So one of the reasons that we need to seek forgiveness and restoration of these relationships is that stories accumulate and if you’ve got a bunch of unresolved stories, that Satan has a whole library of negative stories that you can tell yourself when something, when something happens, and there’s no, and there’s no freedom.
there’s just no freedom in that. So your emotions usually are the result of the stories that you tell yourself, about what just happened.
JimBo Stewart: how do we identify when that’s happening? When we’re reacting to that story, and how do we one identify it, and then what do we do from there in that moment, right? So it’s in the moment the, the heat of the conflict has started. We find [00:17:00] ourselves telling a story, believing a story, and re ready to respond and react.
to the story we’ve told ourselves. How can we quickly identify that before it hits our mouth? and then what can we do to take a better next step?
Bob Bumgarner: that is a great question. I, I hope I can. I, I’m, I’m not sure that in the moment, well, let, let’s do it this way. when you’re processing a story, and it be, and the story is actually what causes you to feel your face be hot, your palms be sweaty, you know, fear to be in your, your chest, to tighten, those kind of things if you’re in control of the meeting.
I would say, Hey, this is a good point for us to, to stop. I wanna think about this for a second. I need to do some processing before I respond. Can we take a 15 minute break? then what I would say to you is, or whoever the person is, if there’s a way for you to go take a 10 minute walk. The science on a 10 minute walk and what it does in your brain is [00:18:00] really, really important.
So get some space. Talk to yourself again, self coaching. Hey, what, what am I feeling threatened about? Bill has never been. if you’re talking to Bill, you know, bill has never done that, and yet I’m in my head. I’m hearing this voice. I’m gonna, I’m not gonna attribute motive to what Bill has said, and I’m gonna see, you might need to ask forgiveness.
You might need to ask God to, to help you. I mean, now , the Crucial Conversations book, it’s not a Christian book, but it is a book that really generate, really operates on some scripture that they may not, that they may not know about . And so, you can create some space to help you deescalate and then to come back into the, you know, into the story, into the crucial conversation.
and then at that point, just go ahead and calmly say what you would say without the judgment. and then see what happens as a result of that. One of the things that to do as well [00:19:00] is to watch the body language of the people that you’re talking to. if they fold their arms, if they start, you know, not making eye contact with you if they’re, if they start giving you verbal and n and non-verbal indications that they feel threaten.
If dialogue shuts down, all those are indications that the, the space is no longer safe for you or them, to have a conversation. I will say this to you, Jimbo, one of the things about having a friend like you that, that’s in several meetings, like we’re in a lot of meetings together. and I trust you, they, one of the things that I think would be super helpful is for you is for you to say, Hey, Bob.
I felt a little bit stressed out when we were talking to that pastor. What was your read on me while I was, was doing that? Let me give you a real example. I was a executive pastor at a large church in town. My daughter was the, um, the preschool person of this, large multi-site church. And we were in a meeting and the pastor.
says, Hey guys, we need to go [00:20:00] into the conference room and, and have a meeting. And there was about 15 of us. And so we all went in to ha and he said something, I don’t even remember what it was. but he said it and then he said these words, he said, and Bob’s gonna finish the conversation. Bob’s gonna lead the meeting.
Now, unfortunately I didn’t know that. Like, I didn’t know that that was gonna happen in that moment. It, he, he wasn’t trying to, it probably showed a level of confidence that he had in me that I didn’t feel in that moment. so I wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to have done in that conversation, but it certainly was a crucial conversation because the stakes are high, opinions vary.
So anyway. I lead the meeting. Okay. We get to what feels like a decent conclusion. My daughter and I were driving home that night and I said to her, I said, Hey, tell me about that meeting. Did you think it went well? And she said this. She said, were you mad? and I said, no, I wasn’t mad. And she said, you should have told your face.
And, um, she talked to me about this [00:21:00] acronym that says if you’re resting, sometimes your face isn’t cheerful. And, And she says, you have that face. and here’s what I found out really from feedback, was that, when I’m concentrating and I’m unsure, I have a very serious look on my face, but it’s, I’m not mad.
I’m just really concentrating, in the moment. Well, here’s the thing. I was over 50 years old when I found that out. Did you hear me? I was over 50 years old and nobody had ever cared enough about me to say. , did you know that when you’re concentrating your face can be that way? ? Well, here’s the, I I’m, that’s partly silly, but my point is, seeking feedback and I hadn’t sought feedback cuz I didn’t know to seek it.
about , about that. And then I read in a magazine, I think it was, fast Company about two weeks later that said people that have amazing haircuts like mine, are always assumed more intense than other people in the room. So that was good for me to know. So now when I’m gonna lead a. I actually sometimes at the top of it, put a post-it note or a little smiley face in the upper right hand [00:22:00]corner just to remind myself, Hey, you know, chill out while you’re, you know, while you’re talking.
so I think the answer to your question about how do we know is when you get the opportunity, ask for feedback. , watch your, your own, how you feel. Like what are your, what are your trigger, you know, your warning signs. And then watch the body language of other people. When dialogue shuts down, people don’t think it’s safe anymore because they’re only gonna talk when it’s safe.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think we’ve gotta build a culture of operating within the fruit of the spirit and identify when we’re not and know how to step away. And that can be hard and scary to, to admit, Hey, I need to. , I need to take a minute, before we continue cuz it, it feels like weakness. And you think that person’s in when you’re in lizard brain and you think that person’s the enemy and you’re gonna project weakness by asking for a break.
but that’s where I remember that Jesus is the hero and not us.
Bob Bumgarner: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: We’ve gotta operate in this, in the throughthe, the Spirit. Uh, just as we land the. , are there any [00:23:00] more kind of secrets you would share about having crucial conversations or final tips, final words to the replant pastor that is stepping into a crucial conversation.
Bob Bumgarner: Yeah, I, I really do. And, and you nailed it when you said the fruit of the spirit. So there’s a side of this. That we don’t need to be afraid because just like, uh, God told Moses, now, therefore, go and I will be with your mouth and I will teach you what you should say. There’s a, there’s a dynamic of this that like, you’re not in this conversation alone.
You’re enabled by the Holy Spirit, but you need to be prayed up. You need to be, you know, walking with him, to have the confidence that he will in fact be there with you in a tangible kind of way. A friend of. Rick Marks, Dr. Rick Marks, he has a four word, formula that really, really helps me. And basically what he says is this, he says, humility is the result of the equation of empathy, respect, and goodwill.[00:24:00]
So in the moment, , you create safety with other people when you are perceived as someone who operates out of humility and not out of power. humility is its own kind of power, but you get what I mean. I’m the not power in the sense of position or, you know, education or wealth or whatever. And, and here’s, here’s how that works.
So in essence, what Rick is saying is Jimbo, when I, I interact with. I sense that you’re humble when you’re empathetic toward me, when you have goodwill toward me and when you respect. So when you, when you say to me, when you reflect back to me that you know how I feel, even listen, you can be empathetic and still disagree with the person sitting in front.
JimBo Stewart: Hmm.
Bob Bumgarner: you cannot want the p you sh. You can know and think it’s crazy that they’d have 30 piece lilies on the stage, but you can still be empathetic that it’s important to them. So [00:25:00] that’s what you’re looking for. How do, how can you demonstrate genuine and don’t fake it? Don’t try to fake it. Be genuinely empathetic with them, and the whole fool’s choice goodwill means that I want what you. I want us to do something to honor the people, and I wanna be good friends. I wanna be friends with you. And respect means that I talk to you on a horizontal plane. I don’t talk down to you if I have some Bible verses. I don’t try to Bible verse you into. Submission. If I have 20 years experience, I don’t try to tell you all of my anecdotes about why I should know better than you.
I just treat you with respect. So the so in my mind, crucial conversations is really about a seven or eight step process. If you read the book about how to have safe dialogue, that really could be from a Christian perspective, summed up in this idea of creating an environment where [00:26:00] humility. through goodwill, respect, and empathy.
JimBo Stewart: That’s a good word. I appreciate you doing a couple episodes with us while the other Bob is traveling and standing in. You’ve done a good job of being proxy Bob for a couple of
Bob Bumgarner: Thank you. awesome. I’m glad to do it. I’m always glad, I love to see what God’s doing through replant, uh, bootcamp. I love church planting, but I, I believe we have to do as much in the area of replanting as we do in the area of planting. And as somebody who has replanted a church straight out a seminary, I, I understand the pain and pleasure of the whole experience, and so, go you guys and, I appreciate your ministry, the rep planners.