Lay and clergy from around the Conference gained new insight on how to approach conflict and find healthy, forward-moving solutions, whether it is in personal or professional spaces. Conflict Resolution Specialist Lisa Hancock was one of the guest speaker’s at this year’s Learning Day. She has helped to mediate conflict in various environments including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill shared her insights so that servant leaders can foster healthy relationships in different areas of their lives.

A United Methodist in the North Texas Conference, Lisa understood very well the common conflicts that tend to arise in church spaces. Her presentation shed light on how we interact with our neighbors, identify our level of self-awareness, identify trouble signs, and define the role of a leader during conflict scenarios. “Today’s leadership rests more firmly on being and learning rather than correctly doing,” she said.

Lisa encouraged churches to take the risks they are often reluctant to take. “Sometimes when I have churches and pastors that are stuck, I get this a lot: ‘I don’t want to make it worse.’”

She stressed that churches must not remain idle in times of conflict and strain. “Whatever you think the next tiny step might be, do it. Because all too often, we do nothing. Just by being here today, you’re doing something.”

Rev. Shannon Stringer, Director of Leadership Development, helped to tailor the discussion for Conference church leaders and patrons to share the strains they encounter in their daily work and faith walk. Both Shannon and Lisa stressed that one of the main practices necessary to overcoming strain and conflict is to not discuss the issue without the parties involved being present.

Shannon set the tone for the gathering by creating a safe environment where servant leaders would not only feel open to sharing their views and frustrations but also continuing to explore healthy and effective solutions.

“The spirit is your willingness to do the work,” she said. “The spirit in this room is one that’s wanting to learn and grow in this area.”

Shannon shared that the roadmap to healthy conflict resolution starts with “understanding what it means to invite the stranger. The stranger is anybody who is not you. And to understand what they have to say, where they come from, and how that can add to your learning and your understanding of moving together as a group.”

She also stressed that to embody a spirit of humility, you must also be willing to get uncomfortable and to do the hard work.

“The only way we’re going to find peace is if we actively work on it,” Shannon said.