Building Unity with Diverse Teams - Corrie Napier

Relationships with co-workers can make or break your work environment. At work, you're often thrown in with people who think differently from you. Whether that means they come from different cultures, hold different beliefs, or express themselves using different styles of communication. While these differences often improve the end product, they can also cause friction. How do you foster a healthy work culture with a diverse team? Is there anything you can do to bring unity out of the chaos of the modern workplace? Guest Corrie Napier is a mediator, conflict consultant, and international education professional who specializes in helping individuals and organizations navigate conflict and enhance effective communication. She's here to share her experiences of building unity in the workplace, and show us how we all can foster a healthier culture at work.

Scripture References

Galatians 5:22-23
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. (NRSV)

John 16:13
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (NRSV)

Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (NRSV)

Matthew 6:9-13
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. (NRSV)

Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (NRSV)

Philippians 4:2-3
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (NRSV)

Additional Resources Referenced

Pax Napier

The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion, by Garry Poole

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​​Leah Archibald: Making It Work is brought to you by The Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary and the Theology of Work Project.

Mark Roberts: Welcome to Making it Work.

LA: Through conversation, scripture and stories, we invite God into work’s biggest challenges... so that you can live out your purpose in the workplace.

MR: I’m Mark Roberts.

LA: And I’m Leah Archibald. And this is Making It Work.

LA: Relationships with co-workers can make or break your work environment. At work, you're often thrown in with people who think differently from you. Whether that means they come from different cultures, hold different beliefs, or express themselves using different styles of communication. While these differences often improve the end product, they can also cause friction. How do you foster a healthy work culture amidst a diverse team? Is there anything you can do to bring unity out of the chaos of the modern workplace? Our guest today is a mediator, conflict consultant, and international education professional who specializes in helping individuals and organizations navigate conflict and enhance effective communication. Corrie Napier is here to share her experiences of building unity in the workplace, and show us how we all can foster a healthier culture at work. Corrie Napier, welcome to the Making It Work podcast.

Corrie Napier: Thank you so much, Leah. It's great to be here.

LA: I wanna start just from your own personal experience. I know you've worked in a lot of different environments, both as a foreigner working overseas, and working with diverse groups in your home country, the United States. I wonder if you could share an experience of a particularly challenging team you had to work with. What were some of their specific challenges and what did you have to do to get that group to gel?

CN: Sure. I'm happy to dive into that question. I immediately think of a team that I oversaw in a city that basically had a network of schools. I was Head of Admissions, for a bilingual network of K through 12 schools, and so we were in charge of touring parents and processing applications. And my team had to pass parents from one school to the other because they had to tour multiple campuses often, and so the admissions, which functions as a sales team essentially for this education group, had to really have tight communication amongst them. And on my particular team across this city, so I managed teams in multiple cities, but this particular city was a large one and had four campuses within the city.

There was a multi-cultural group with very diverse backgrounds and experiences, who had found their way to education sales and so... There were some from Asia, there were some from the US, Australia, and I had a gentleman from Niger, Africa as well. And so we had a real [chuckle] challenge, often really communicating messages in similar ways to provide a unified front to parents about the face of the school, and it was a real challenge one time, when I noticed there were grumblings amongst the team of just the communication differences with the other side of the city, with the other campus. And parents who had given feedback to my team saying, that the other team hadn't been as responsive, there had been some challenges with booking the appointments, and they were just... I could just tell there was not synergy or unity in the team.

LA: And you had this triple whammy of communications challenges, 'cause you had a multicultural team. Right?

CN: Yes.

LA: And everyone communicates differently. And you also had a dispersed team, you're not all together in the same office, and then you also had the team working on separate aspects of the same project. You're working on the sort of shared goal, but each person has their own little fiefdom. So that sounds to me like a managerial nightmare.

CN: [laughter] It was, in many ways. And I felt the Lord really uniquely equipping me to handle this, because as Head of Admissions, I would travel and work at a different campus every day, and I got these little insights into what was going on, and I started to kind of formulate this plan of how to address... Exactly as you said, these are just, well, perfect storm of circumstances that often caused conflict amongst my team. Because we really, without functioning in unity together, it would not have worked to provide a smooth process for these parents.

LA: So what did you do? How did you get this team to start to work together better?

CN: Yeah. Well, the thing is, as I went about my work, and even today as I go about my work, I'm constantly in dialogue with the Holy Spirit about, "Okay, what do I do? How do I approach this?" And sometimes I just sit in silence and I just kinda wait for some ideas to come, and I see what comes to mind as I read the Scripture, as I sit, and just listen. And I also know that He has equipped me in my giftings, and had really commissioned me. I'd felt, released me to do this work, and so I also learned how to trust the wisdom that He was already giving me throughout the day. And so one of the ideas that came to mind, as I brought this before Him, was to do something very unconventional at my next monthly team meeting, which was to go roller skating. [laughter] This was...

LA: You wanted to kill them on roller skates.

CN: [laughter] Exactly. It was a strange idea, and I hadn't been roller skating since I was a kid, but I recently heard of a rink in the city. And before we got into any work matters, we all met at the roller rink and as a group activity, we went around and around and there was only one small injury [laughter] in our team that day.

Anyway, after that we went to lunch, again, not even addressing the challenges yet that I wanted to bring up. But we went to lunch, food is a great, I found as a manager, a great way to... Something we all share and can enjoy together. I wanted to build up that sense of camaraderie and good rapport with the team, 'cause I just sensed that was really lacking. They didn't really know each other well enough yet, and I wanted to increase that. So I brought my secret weapon, Leah, to this restaurant...

LA: Roller skates?

CN: Which I wanna share with you and everyone. Not roller skates, though. [laughter]

LA: Not roller skates, okay.

CN: My secret weapon is something I constantly have in my purse, and I've used this in my personal and professional life to bring people together. It's called "The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion." So the first 100 questions of the book... The questions start out very light-hearted and then when you get up to 1001, they're extremely deep and intense. And I believe in the value of all of the questions, but I wanted to just get a light-hearted connection going with the team. So I asked the first person I saw next to me at the table, "Pick a number between one and 100." And so they kinda gave me a weird look and I just asked them, "This is an activity that I thought we would do." And so they did, and I read the question and then that person... The idea was for them to answer the question, and then I gave them, which they did, and I gave them the book and then they chose the next person. And so then that person gives them a number and then they read them and it goes on and goes on. So they're choosing the next person to answer and it goes around. We just did one round of that. And I really have seen, in the "Randomness" of these numbers, I have seen the Lord bring up questions for people that bring out certain ideas and connection that just get things rolling in terms of synergy and communication with the team.

It's amazing. It's a simple game/activity that I'll do at the beginning of some meetings or when I have a gathering like that. And I've used that on this particular occasion, and it just shifted the tone. It shifted the atmosphere and got people laughing and sharing some stories and just silly little things like, "Do you roll or squeeze the toothpaste tube, and what's the advantage to your method? Do you know... " [chuckle] Simple human stuff that connects us all.

LA: Oh, squeeze. Squeeze absolutely.

CN: [chuckle] Squeeze, okay.

LA: Mark, what would you say? Squeeze? Come on, get on my side here.

MR: Well, it's really funny because we're sort of a both/and family. First we squeeze, but then you gotta roll if you're gonna, wanna get it all out.

LA: Roll at the end.

MR: And I will go... I will go to the very end to get the tiniest little last drop of toothpaste out. [laughter] I'm not kidding. I'm obsessed about that, whereas others in my family will actually throw out that and get a new tube going. So anyway...

LA: Do you feel like we're ready to work together now, the three of us?

MR: Yes. [chuckle]

LA: On this podcast? [chuckle]

CN: I don't know. We might have to...

MR: Roller skates... I don't know.

CN: Get out a little bit to find out what is the best method but I could mediate that conversation. Don't worry. [laughter]

LA: But really, after going through these seemingly random light-hearted questions, did you feel like that flipped a switch or did a trick for your team to help them communicate better about the more tricky work-related issues that they were dealing with?

CN: Absolutely. It really took the edge off, and it took that hyper-focus on seeing the other person as a problem, which we often do at work. We funnel our frustration at a person as opposed to looking at the problem out in front of us and the person next to us, as the person who can brainstorm with us to come up with good solutions to solve that problem, which is the framework I always am trying to set up with my team. And so that's exactly what we did. After the lunch, we went back to our conference room, and what naturally flowed as I talked about, "Alright, we all know this is an issue. We all know that there's some communication challenges, here is the issue. Parents aren't being served the best because there are different kinds of standards and protocols that are used when we are dealing with booking appointments and all of these things. How are we, together, going to solve this? What are some ideas?" And it became this creative brainstorming process together, where they had already come warmed up and feeling connected to each other. And immediately, it just... The problem began to be solved because some really great ideas came out because all of a sudden, there was this desire to work together because they liked each other a little bit more than they had. And they were able to focus on an aspect of their humanity that was not just that work function. It was also just the fact that they were great people. And so I always try to lace in those fun, light-hearted elements when I'm bringing together the team before we get into any heavy lifting in terms of resolving work issues.

LA: Now, you started the story by saying, when you were thinking about what to do with your team, you came up with this idea in dialogue with the Holy Spirit. Can you explain for someone who says, "What on Earth are you talking about, Corrie?" [chuckle] What does that mean to you to do your work in dialogue with the Holy Spirit?

CN: Absolutely. It's just essential, it's part of how I function because I have a million things that I could do with my time, a million ways I could lead my team. And I know that God has gifted me and created me to use my strengths and talents in a specific way, and He's the most creative person ever, and is the source of all creativity and is the source of unity. So for me, in this relationship that I have with Him, which in Christianity, we have this opportunity to connect intimately with the Living God of the universe. I have some daily practices that I do that foster that connection, and I also just open dialogue throughout the day, just small moments of silence, whether I'm walking from one meeting to the next, or if I am in my car, or if I just have a small moment at my desk to just pause and think through and ask, "Okay... " It's just my thought process. And sometimes I'll even say it out loud if I'm by myself, "Alright, so I've gotta do this. I've gotta figure out what to do for this meeting. God, what can I do for this meeting? What would bring some unity here?" And I'll just wait and just listen and see what ideas come to mind. And I've... Over the years have come to discern the ideas that spark joy and life and give me a sense of peace. And sometimes I find myself laughing out loud with some of the ideas that the Lord gives me or that I feel like they come up. And I say, the Lord gives me, I recognize that. The ideas that come to mind, that bring that fruit of the Spirit, that joy, peace, life, I recognize that, and I've now been able to confidently say, "You know, I really sensed that the Lord gave me that idea, or the Lord prompted that, or... " And it's just a function of my relationship with Him.

LA: So to sum up what I hear you saying is that when you get a great idea for your work, you can tell that it's coming from God. You get the sense it is coming from God when it displays one of these fruits of the Spirit...

CN: Yes.

LA: Which is a term from the Bible. It comes from Galatians chapter five, verses 22 and 23, and it gives us a list of the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness, not in order. [laughter]

CN: You got it.

LA: That's the gist. So I'm hearing in this roller skating and ice breaker challenge for your team, I'm hearing the gentleness of it, the joy of it, the love that can grow from people. But there's also a trust aspect here that comes from faithfulness in God. You have to have that trust that doing this activity, which isn't one-on-one linked to productivity for today, that can have an effect on the overall fruitfulness of the team.

CN: Absolutely.

LA: Mark, let me bring you into this conversation. Have you had surprising experiences at your work where you felt like, "Oh, maybe that's... I'm getting some of the fruit of the Spirit here and I wasn't even thinking of it that way."

MR: Oh, my goodness, over the years, yes. And it just... It's really interesting, Corrie, to listen to what you're saying, because I think sometimes it does come from out of left field like roller skating. [chuckle] And... Whereas... So I have two inclinations if I'm in a difficult sort of situation or relational situation. Honestly, number one is just ignore it, just... I'm not saying that's good, I'm just being honest. [chuckle] I don't like conflict and... Whereas if you have my wife, she's like, "Oh, we gotta talk about this." But then I've learned talking is a good thing. And so I'm not advocating number one, I think number two is good, but what you are sensitive to was that, "Okay, before we actually get in and talk about this, we need to grow the relationship a bit. We need to see each other differently, experience each other differently." And I really have found that over the years... It's funny 'cause I was thinking, actually, when I was just first starting as a pastor and I took my staff and we went up on a retreat in the mountains and I wanted us to go on a hike. A couple of my people were really, "No... " [laughter]

LA: But you had the vision. You were gonna get them in the wilderness, and...

MR: Well, and the thing was, they just wanted to work. But actually that was part of the problem. It was not about building relationship, it was about, "We gotta get in and do the work." And so we did do the hike, I'm not sure it solved or anything, but I just... I love the way... So if you were thinking, somebody's thinking, listening to this podcast, "Okay, we're gonna hear a person who's a Christian talk about workplace relationships." I bet nobody was thinking you were gonna start with roller skating [chuckle] and fun, light duty questions. So I really love that. I think there's a... I just... I'm gonna buy that book 'cause I think, "Wow, I need that book."

CN: I really recommend it.

MR: So thank you for mentioning it.

CN: You're welcome. I use it on... I use it when I'm with a group of people I don't know well, and where everyone's... You're around a table and you're making conversation with the person next to you slightly awkwardly, and I'm that person who will, at the table say, "Hey, does anybody wanna play a dinner game? I have a dinner game." And everyone that has also, of course, felt a little bit awkward says... "Oh, sure, absolutely." And I'll just pick the first person and say, "Pick a number" and I'll have it with me, and... The kinds of conversation directions that it takes is just fantastic, and I've used it in so many work settings where it's brought together people, where there's power dynamics going on at the table or at a work dinner or a work lunch, something like that. It really evens the playing field with just the common denominator of humanity and brings depth, brings light-heartedness and brings that connection.

MR: I love that. And again, that was The Complete Book of Questions, right? That's what it was called?

CN: Yeah, it's called The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters For Any Occasion. I believe the author is Garry Poole.

MR: Okay, thank you.

LA: As you were talking, it made me think of this other verse about the Holy Spirit, in John 16:13, where Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth. And He says, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth." And I think there's... Sometimes when I think of that verse, I think of a little bit of heaviness, but there's also some lightheartedness in the fact that the fruit of the Spirit is joy, and the nature of the Holy Spirit is truth. And truth between people is something that can lead us into greater joy and understanding between us and the people that we work with.

CN: Absolutely, yep. And we needed to focus, and we... On any of our teams now, we need to focus on those areas of... We all want the truth, we wanna be seen for who we are, we want our work to be acknowledged, we want to bring a good product to people, we want... We wanna be trustworthy... And so if we work toward that together, especially as leaders, or even if you're not a leader in the workplace, the Holy Spirit guiding us into that place of truth where all of us can be flourishing in truthfulness and faithfulness and all of these aspects, and going back to those fruits of the Holy Spirit, that is the way that God has designed us to function, is in truth, in the truth of who, of the gifts that we have, and in the truth of bringing forth things that will cause communities and our businesses and everything to flourish.

MR: Now Corrie, I'm just dying to ask you how your thinking and your acting and your work has changed in a world in which so many of us are just Zooming, right? I mean, I've worked... We hired this wonderful woman last fall in my team, and we've worked a ton together, and I've seen her one time. I saw her in May for the first time, so it's a very different reality. And I'm just curious, 'cause I'm sure you've got a lot of thoughts on that, but what are some of your thoughts on how your work and the things you're doing and encouraging, how the Zoom reality and the more and more distance working, remote working, affects things?

CN: Yeah, absolutely. I finished... I was finishing a role, my most recent job, which was at a university, I was finishing that right at the... As COVID was ramping up. And I was working with groups of international students and helping them build bridges to the administration of the university and creating community amongst them and all of those things. And we had to switch immediately from meeting in person to virtual dinners, which are just not as fun. [chuckle]

MR: Yeah, sure.

CN: And I'm sure I would have had to come up with a lot of other creative approaches like that. We did quiz nights and different kinds of activities, and we had to host meetings and things like that, of course, as everyone is doing on Zoom. I only had to do that for a couple of months before I switched to start building my own practice. I actually moved across the country from California to Virginia in August of 2020, and I launched a mediation practice, and that's what I'm doing now. And so I'm actually helping workplace groups. I'm a consultant for different organizations and companies, I do trainings, and so I've kind of taken from a consulting lens, working with people.

And what we've really discovered and what teams are discovering, I feel like, across the US, as I've had the privilege to, because of Zoom, work with teams across the US, is that they're really needing to take more time before a meeting even begins to just connect personally, especially work teams. And sometimes that's just a 10 or 15 minute kind of a window, where they just all hop on before the big regional gathering or whatever it is, and they just connect. How is your day? How is it going? How was your week? Just some personal updates, some life updates, whatever people wanna share. And consistently I've been hearing this from companies that that really has become needed because you don't have those few minutes before the meeting starts that you're sitting there kind of naturally sharing that in a conference room anymore.

LA: Now, Corrie...

Now, I imagine when you get to the mediation stage, you’re past roller skating, there's something that's gone wrong in this relationship, and there may be some different... Are there different tactics that need to be employed?

CN: Oh, absolutely.

LA: Or how do you think about mediation differently when you're in the stage where there's already a known problem?

CN: When there's explosive conflict or something where when it reaches the stage where they bring in a mediator, for example, the very first thing that we do is come... Lay out some group agreements and come to an understanding about what those agreements are gonna be for how the conversation is gonna go. So I have a standard set that I use. For example, using "I" statements instead of blaming statements, using a calm tone of voice and not raising our voice, and things like listening to the other person and not interrupting. So some of the basic rules of the game for how a productive conversation is gonna happen. And then I'll ask each party, "Would you like to add to this? What other group agreements would you like to agree on that would help you feel safe in this context? And some people have mentioned, "Well, can we have our phones off so we're not interrupted?" Or, "Can we agree to... " Let's see, recently had someone say, "Can we agree to operate from a framework of forgiveness?" Just... That was a really interesting addition that the other party actually agreed to. "Yeah, I'd like to work towards forgiveness. I'm not there yet, but I'd like to operate from that framework." And I was like, "I wanna add that to... " Certain context, I wanna add that to my standard list.

But anyway, give them the opportunity to shape how the... The framework of that conversation, and then we go into it. And so it becomes a dance of sometimes we start separately and sometimes we come together, but having that neutral third-party facilitator really helps people to see things more clearly, and even if it's just the... I play referee with people. I have to stop people sometimes if they're interrupting and say, "Actually, could you hear out the other person first and then you'll have your time." And sometimes that alone is what creates some understanding, where they weren't hearing each other, weren't seeing each other. But just a third party there to help them hear each other, that's really what people are wanting, to be heard and listened to, and that begins to create connection again, when communication has totally broken down.

LA: Is there anywhere in the Bible, Corrie, where you see a reflection of this type of work or a reflection of the type of space that you wanna create in these conversations?

CN: Well, blessed are the peacemakers. I see my role now as a peacemaker, that's the immediate go-to for me. And another immediate go-to is what I pray every morning from Matthew, which is the Lord's Prayer. The essence of the Lord's Prayer is right there, where I just pray, "Lord, let your kingdom come on this earth. Let your kingdom come in these relationships, in this group that I'm mediating for today, in this team that I'm trying to create some connection to, in this training that I'm doing today. Let your kingdom come." And my understanding of the kingdom of God and all of the verses, Jesus talks more about the kingdom of God than he does about salvation. Advancing the kingdom of God, I feel like is something... As Christians, we often get so focused on salvation, which is so important and wonderful, and I think we sometimes forget that after we've entered through that door of salvation, there is an entire world of understanding to gain as we go through sanctification, as we are discipled, as we move with the guidance from the Lord in our relationship with him into the spheres... Our spheres of influence in the world. And we see his kingdom come through business, his kingdom come through art, his kingdom come through families and all of these different institutions that we're a part of.

And so, I get a lot of inspiration from the Word. When Romans 14, for example, talks about... Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." So how is my work today advancing peace and joy? And if there's no peace and joy coming as a result of what I'm doing, am I really advancing the kingdom of God? And so I look for those fruits of the Spirit, I look for those indicators, and I can't do it, but God through me can do it. And so it's really that posture of submitting to him every day and just saying, "I really can't do this, Lord. I can't. I don't know the best way to... I don't know who's coming to this training, for example, tuning in from all over the US that I'm doing on how to give constructive feedback," was the training I did two weeks ago. "I don't know who's gonna be there. You know, and so help me to advance ideas and spark things in people's mind that will impact their workplace for good, where joy and peace will be a result." And so that peace, especially as a mediator, "Blessed are the peacemakers," that really has connected with me as I'm in this particular season of work.

LA: And we should say that Jesus said this in one breath, in this prayer that you pray every day, which is often called the "Our Father" prayer. But Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray in this fashion in Matthew chapter Six, starting in Verse 9. But it's part of this same sermon that he started off with saying, "All these groups that are blessed... " at the beginning of Matthew chapter 5, which includes, "Blessed are the peacemakers," and as well as, "Blessed are the people who are persecuted for righteousness. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart." So this posture that you strive for, or I would say this goal for your work that you strive for, of being a peacemaker, really is intertwined with this prayer that you ask God for it to be God's kingdom coming through you, knowing that you're not... You're not ultimately powerful yourself to make everything happen, that's why you ask God for the daily provision.

CN: Yeah, absolutely.

LA: Mark, tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree. That's the link that I'm making between these two verses.

MR: Oh no, that... That's great. I'm just aware that there's so much in Scripture about people not getting along. [laughter] There's actually a lot of... Which is partly encouraging. It's like the Bible's got real people in it, it's about real life, it's not some make-believe world. And so in the big picture, I think absolutely to think in terms of peace, which biblically isn't only getting along or the absence of conflict, it's really about building healthy, godly, fruitful relationships. Conflict resolution is hugely important, but you often... But there's the other side of it, and you referred to this earlier, Corrie, it's about building the relationships, that's why what you said that, you're so into relationships. That...

CN: Yes. Yes.

MR: And you think of that in the workplace, you think of that in any relationship. In a marriage, if you build a strong marriage, then you'll be okay when the conflict comes. And there's just so much in Scripture that helps us and encourages us to build strong relationships, so that when the time comes that we're at each other's throats, there's something to help us out. And again, there's just... I was thinking about this passage in Philippians 4, right at the beginning of Philippians 4, where Paul urges these two women, whose names are Euodia and Syntyche, kind of funny names, that's not really popular baby names these days for girls, but...

LA: What? Syntyche was at the top of my list. What are you talking about? [laughter]

MR: Yeah, well, okay, that's... That actually means 'with luck'.

LA: I thought it was pronounced Schenectady though. I got it wrong. [laughter]

MR: Well, that's a... That's another thing. So Paul writes, and he urges them to be of the same mind, he says, in the Lord, so partly there's that reminder. It's not just find a way to get along, it's about being in the Lord, which changes the nature of your dynamic. But he also talks about how the fact that Paul and these women have worked together, they've got history, they've got relationship. And so when they get to the place of disagreement, whatever it's they were disagreeing about, there's something strong and good behind that, that allows them to then to deal with what's not working, but again, to do that in the Lord, who calls us to stuff like forgiveness, as you've mentioned earlier. Calls us to be walking the second mile with people, there's just this whole framework of how we actually take the call to peace, and then now here's really how you live it out.

CN: Absolutely, I love the distinction that you make, that peace is not just a lack of conflict, peace is people functioning in unity and right relationship with each other in the way that God created us to function, which is people with different gifts, different strengths coming together. And you better believe that when people with different strengths and gifts come together, this has been my whole experience working with all kinds of different groups, there's going to be conflict, and in my field, we always talk, conflict is inevitable. It doesn't mean there's some issue, it means that the issue is, do you know how to deal with it when it comes up and actually see it as a catalyst for connection? So can you harness the energy that comes from conflict? Because people get riled up because they care about whatever it is. They have values that might be at odds or different concerns that are of significance to them. And so can we create spaces, as leaders, or even as colleagues, coming together and approaching another colleague, to open a dialogue, open platforms and ways to allow those things, those values, those things we care about to come out so that we can really dialogue and come into a deeper place of unity, and not just throw it under the rug.

I remember Mark, your first description of conflict. It's actually a legitimate way to deal with conflict. And it's one of the options, which is avoidance, which can definitely be appropriate at certain times. It's not always the time to approach conflict directly. Often though people only avoid. [chuckle] And that's a human thing, we don't really know, and so we avoid it, and it can build up and create kind of a sense of artificial harmony. But again, that lack of peace or that lack of conflict is not peace, that artificial harmony is not actually peace. It's a powder keg that will blow at the time that it does. And so how can we be doing things as teams to continually address the issues that will come up and get really good at putting them on the table and solving those problems together on the same team.

LA: So Corrie, I wanna ask you, if folks wanna access more of your wisdom, or if folks are in conflict and interested in your type of mediation, how can they get in contact with you?

CN: Oh, absolutely, I have a website, paxnapier. Pax like like peace in Latin, P-A-X. Napier, my last name, N-A-P-I-E-R dot com. And to just fill out the contact form there. I offer free 30-minute consultations to just connect and find out what's going on in your workplace. And I do conflict culture assessments, so if your team... If teams are looking to, for example, get a temperature check for their team and want someone to come in with that neutral perspective. I interview key stakeholders, key members of the team, and then offer an assessment report with some of the observations I may have about what may be causing underlying issues that continue to come up, because often those are symptomatic of deeper things like unclear leadership structures or roles or inconsistent expectations, things like that.

So I'll give an assessment as well as some ways that people can do coaching or trainings or other things that I can offer to help address some of those issues. And some of them, it might be just, you need to actually build a manual where you can clarify some of these things, or they might be just free solutions, it's not all cost-related, that they may not see from their perspective. So lots of different options. And people can just fill out that contact form if they're interested to find some solutions with regard to mediation in their workplace.

LA: And Mark, I wanna ask you the last question. Let's say, you know, I'm a listener who's in deep conflict with a person on my team, or just having a real hard time communicating with someone on my team. What advice or encouragement could you give someone like that as from your pastoral point of view? What spiritual encouragement could you give?

MR: Well, I guess, first, just on a really human level, I'd say, you know, you're not alone. That's virtually anybody in a workplace has experiences like this, and so that... 'Cause sometimes you feel like, "Oh man, I'm uniquely bad off." And that's probably not true. The big thing that I would say, I mean, there's obvious things like... And Corrie was talking earlier, if you haven't talked to the Lord about it, because it feels like, well, this is a workplace thing, this isn't a spiritual thing, that could be a good place to say, "No, this is a spiritual thing," and you're gonna talk to the Lord about it. But this is where I'd say you gotta get some help. I mean, I don't know, I'm the sort of person that if I'm in a conflictual relationship, my emotions are pretty stirred up, I'm not necessarily thinking straight or all that creatively, and it really helps to... Now, to talk to the right person. The wrong person is, I'm gonna gossip all around the rest of the team, or do the things we often do in a workplace. That's not good. So the right person could be... Could be getting a hold of Corrie, I'm literally, honestly, that's one thing.


Or if you have a wise pastor, or in some cases... My wife is a wise woman, I'll talk to her about those things. And sometimes, I mean, often she's really helpful 'cause she can say things to me that not everybody could say, and I know she loves me. So there are different places, but I also have a spiritual director, and he's a person of great wisdom. So again, the context is gonna vary, but I would say get somebody you can talk to about this who is gonna hold it in confidence. Again, that may or may not be someone from your workplace. If you go to HR, you're gonna up the ante, and sometimes you need to up the ante, but sometimes you don't wanna do that yet. So I would say find a brother or sister in Christ, a person of wisdom with whom you can just lay it out and begin getting a different perspective and getting someone who can pray for you, and somebody who can hold you accountable, if there are some things that you really decide you need to do to help improve the relationship. So my big thing would be, get help. Help from God, help from some wise brother or sister.

LA: Well, I feel both encouraged and a little bit of a fire lit under my bum if I'm in that situation, [chuckle] so thank you for that advice, Mark.

CN: Mm-hmm. That's great advice.

LA: And Corrie, Corrie Napier, thank you so much for joining us.

CN: Fantastic. Really great to be here.

MR: Thank you.

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