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How Do Coalitions Influence Peace-making?

I'm wrapping up my series on conflict among women…just a couple of posts left. Today let's discuss the wisdom of coalitions. What is a coalition? It has been defined as "the unification of the power or resources (or both) of two or more parties so that they stand a better chance of obtaining a desired outcome or of controlling others not included in the coalition" (Rubin and Brown).

Coalitions are common and can be positive, as when several people band together to influence a decision that benefits them all. At the heart of coalitions is the desire for power—power to get what we want done. But coalitions can be harmful and dangerous. They can damage the peace process.

I'm wrapping up my series on conflict among women…just a couple of posts left. Today let's discuss the wisdom of coalitions. What is a coalition? It has been defined as "the unification of the power or resources (or both) of two or more parties so that they stand a better chance of obtaining a desired outcome or of controlling others not included in the coalition" (Rubin and Brown).

Coalitions are common and can be positive, as when several people band together to influence a decision that benefits them all. At the heart of coalitions is the desire for power—power to get what we want done. But coalitions can be harmful and dangerous. They can damage the peace process.

Christian women tend to feel powerless in a variety of situations. They are usually outnumbered on staff and in leadership roles in the church. Some are voiceless and feel powerless in their jobs and homes. As a result, they tend to come together to “feel” stronger.

Many women thrive in a web of relationships. They lead using collaboration and team-building. A woman’s natural tendency in conflict is to seek to draw a supportive net around herself, first to assure herself that she is right, and second, to comfort her in the inevitable emotional “tension” over the disagreement. These female tendencies toward power-building, relational support, and collaboration make many women vulnerable to ignoring Matthew 18:17, to their peril.

Consequences range from drawing in and wounding bystanders, especially family members, to creating wide-spread dissension in the Body of Christ to ultimately dirtying Jesus’ name. This domino effect splits churches and turns nonbelievers against Jesus, coloring his reputation in the culture.  Jesus was dead serious when he taught us the principle of containment!

If you have seen the negative impact of a coalition in a conflict, please share it with us. Help us abolish these tendencies in Christian women today.

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Sue Edwards

Dr. Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women's Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women's Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women's ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.