Let’s Talk

Coffee physic“How would you handle a Drama Vampire?”


“What’s your persistence score?”

“My what?”

“How would you use ORP to handle this situation?”

“Say again.”

“Would you be a Drama Adversary or a Drama Allied in this scenario?”

“I’m not sure.”

“What is your primary character trait: Persister, Thinker, Rebel, Harmonizer or Promoter and what mask do you wear when interacting in your primary character trait?”

By this time my 65-year-old brain has shut down and I’m no longer able to process the misconstrued terminology that I am being plummeted with.

Since last summer I have been attending classes that are intended to help me understand the dynamics of conflict resolution. The idea is that breaking them down into definable components and applying formulated elucidations, the actual underlying issue as well as the overt and perceived problem can be resolved and rectified with greater proficiency and undeviating permanents.

To state it more plainly, we learn to talk to each other.

To accomplish this, we need to understand what our primary “character base” is; persister, thinker, rebel, harmonizer, promoter and something else. Then we need to perceive what the other person’s character base is and how the different bases interact or don’t interact with each other. Where are the points of conflict and the points of agreements? We can use “Drama Resilience Assessment (DRA) to determine what “Drama Role” we are playing; Drama Adversary or Drama Allies. It is important to comprehend where in the “Drama Triangle we are and what our “Open, Resourceful and Persistent” scores are. Mine are 60,65 and 61. I am also a persister/thinker/something else “character base” in case you were wondering. Of course, these need to be measured against my Victim score;59, Rescuer score; 56 and Persecutor score; 50.

The structure of a conflicted disagreement is Open, Resourceful and Persistent, ORP for short. A successful resolution is ORPO which simple means you end up at “Open” which is where you started. The Karlman Drama Triangle clearly illustrates this interaction by: stating boundaries, reinforcing non-negotiables and  accepting responsibilities. This is accomplished by :Gathering information; Leverage strength; Building on success”. Then to insure everyone is happy we need to “validate feelings; disclose feelings and motive; empathize through personal experience”. Or to state more clearly, stop and listen, state your values, let go and move on.

Patterns cycles and triangles are essential in resolving conflicts. Patterns include; Hv, the victim-based helping pattern and Hr, rescuer-based helping pattern. Cycles include Compassion Cycle which are not to be confused with Compassion Triangles. Though really you end up at the same place, don’t you?

Fortuitously, there is a formula which, when combined with these simple and straightforward tools brings all these dynamic ideas into sharp focus. The formula for conflict resolution in our churches is: CC=O>R>P>O.

As my mind recovered from the stupor it had retreated into, I looked about at the bright eager young minister excitedly scribbling notes and whose faces where filled with the eagerness of applying these revolutionary ideas on their guileless church members. I also noted some older pastors whose shell-shocked expression reflected my own facial demeanor. The younger members of my profession used these terms and phrases with full comprehension and familiarity. They were excited to learn more and apply these wonderous ideas, entering all these data into their computers and smartphones.

I opened my computer and began to check on my retirement pension.

The need to successfully negotiate conflict resolution is a critical skill for pastors in the modern church. Comprehending and developing these skills, then applying them in the complex and dynamic environment of modern church culture is an essential skillset for the future. Alas, though I desire God’s church to move forward and hope that younger clergy can keep the churches vibrant and relevant in the future, I feel that I am a creature of the past, an old dog unable to learn new tricks.

I am more comfortable with the simple idea of sitting down with other people, sharing a cup of coffee and having a nice conversation. I am less inclined to analyze, formulate, and strategize. It is my sincere wish for my younger colleagues to have an abundant and fruitful life in ministry. These classes are essential for the younger ministers to nurture new skills for the future.  And I am encouraged that such bright and compassionate people will fill the pulpits after us older clergy start spending our retirement funds. (Though I wish there were more of them-both younger clergy and retirement funds.)

I would like to remind them of a story concerning a young pastor fresh out of seminary. He was assigned to be tutored by an older clergy. On his first day they went around the community visiting with people about the weather, the local high school sports teams, the price of gas and various mundane events in the local community. The younger pastor grows inpatient, eager to discuss more theological and spiritual matters of faith. He finally asks the elder pastor;

“When are we going to start ministering?”

He replied, “We already are.”

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