Through the years, I have worked with business, education, civic, and (obviously) religious organizations. Unquestionably, those organizations that manifest a culture of conflict do not succeed.
Any time you have a system that is closed to other points of view, that demonizes those who do not share your perspective, or that sets up a paradigm of winning vs. losing, the culture will not only be severely conflicted — it simply will not thrive. In my opinion, such is the present case with our federal government.
My experience is that organizations that promote a culture of collaboration and consensus-building absolutely thrive.
Case in point: in my previous chapter, I was blessed to be a part of a coalition of religious, business, education and civic leaders in establishing a sports complex for young people. The opinions, desires and even theological perspectives of the members were incredibly diverse. Yet personal and even partisan agendas were left at the door, allowing for a culture that was respectful, open, and mission-focused. Today, I’m happy to report thousands of young people are benefiting from use of this facility.
In the end, it comes down to health. Conflicted organization and systems, like people, can exist for a long time — but in a very compromised way. On the other hand, those entities that promote inclusion, conversation, creativity, innovation and imagination exude health — and tend to function at or near their potential. We are called to be people of health: from the Great Commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, to our Baptismal Covenant to respect the dignity of every human being, to — as Jesus tells us in the 10th chapter John — have life and to have it abundantly.
Whether we are members of Congress, members of faith communities, or members of the community at large, we should be asking ourselves this question: how do we move from conflict to collaboration? How do we move from a stalemate toward a thriving success?