Fights with Coworkers
This lesson was piloted in April 2017 by Southern California Teen Challenge, in a program for women rehabilitating from drug addiction, prison, and prostitution. To see all lessons, go to the Women's Prison Curriculum Table of Contents.
Discussion Question: Have you ever had a fight with someone you worked with? What happened in the end?
Drama at work can make life miserable. It’s not surprising that conflicts come up between coworkers. You don’t get to choose the people you work with, and often they come from different backgrounds or have different views of the world. What is surprising is that most people don’t know how to resolve workplace conflicts peacefully. Jesus knew.
Jesus understood that conflicts happen. He laid out a model for conflict resolution when he told his disciples how they should relate to each other.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
You can take several lessons from this verse for resolving conflicts with coworkers:
- Address the problem as soon as possible with the other person, face to face.
- Describe the problem without name-calling or self-justification.
- Listen to the other person’s side of the story. Listening is so important that Jesus mentions it three times in this passage.
- If meeting one-on-one doesn’t bring a solution, ask mutual friends or a direct supervisor to step in.
Discussion Question: Imagine that one of your coworkers told you another coworker was talking about you behind your back. What do you do?
Jesus often had to remind his followers not to criticize each other. When Martha publicly criticized her sister Mary for not doing her share of the housework, Jesus pointed out Martha’s negative attitude and told her to leave Mary alone.
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Even the people following Jesus got angry and wanted to respond with violence. But Jesus said violence is never a good idea.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Violence isn’t a way to solve problems; it will only get you into more trouble. You often hear people say: “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” This is what Jesus tells his disciples. If you use violence or threats of violence, there will be a negative consequence.
Discussion Question: What part of Jesus’ advice is hardest to follow?