Resolving Conflict…Without Shaming

This post is part of the online conversation “Leading and Ministering in Honor-Shame Contexts” in April 2016. Click here to read reflections and insights from mission practioners. 

Have you heard (or personally experienced) this story before?  

Once upon a time…a national Christian worked for a Western ministry organization. Without asking, he used money from the ministry fund for a personal emergency. When the Western leader found out, he ….

Contrasting cultural values make conflict resolution stressful and challenging. weeping-41879_640Several factors may complicate the matter.  

  • The other national Christians may not see any problem with the situation. Such “long-term borrowing” money may not be considered wrong.
  • You have known this person for a long time, they are like a child or son/daughter to your family.
  • You suspect broaching the issue will damage the relationship, as it would bring a tremendous shame upon them.
  • You know that every culture has unique forms of conflict resolution. For example, some may confess and reconcile with a symbolic action, not a verbal apology. Shame cultures communicate indirectly to avoid losing face.

These stressful situations are always complex; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. How can people address the issue and resolve the conflict, but without (overly) shaming the other person and destroying the relationship? Here are some questions to guide this discussion:

  • What are some biblical principles for wisely and fruitfully navigating conflict in an honor-shame context?
  • What should be the objective/goal of confronting someone about sin (e.g., retribution, restitution, repentance, restoration)? What is the best means of achieving that goal?
  • Is shaming others always wrong? Or, is there a biblical way to shame someone? If so, when and how is shaming appropriate?
  • What insights can we glean from social scientists in this area of reconciliation and conflict-resolution? 

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 11.44.30 AMPlease share relevant Bible verses/passages, stories from your ministry, helpful resources, or best practices you have observed about interpersonal communication in honor-shame cultures at the Synergy Commons forum

Your comments could be about confronting sin, handling interpersonal conflict, offering constructive criticism or correcting someone (and not just limited to the opening story). I’m looking forward to your stories of conflict…and restoration!

If you are new to this topic or community, we extend an invitation to jump in and be part of this open conversation. Anybody can read posts, but to comment you will need to register for a free account

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resources for Majority World ministry

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