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When you get a splinter, you have to deal with it, splinters are small but have a huge impact. It’s so small that you can’t even see it at first, and it seems insignificant. But what happens if you leave it unattended? It gets infected. If it gets severe, it can completely shut you down and make you unable to function. 

We need to recognize and deal with the splinters in order to prevent irritation and frustration. 

In this article, we will learn more about having difficult conversations as we uncover the following topics:

    1. What is a Splinter?
    2. Identifying Splinters
    3. How to Deal with Splinters

What is a Splinter?

In life, we all have splinters. These are those small problems that cause discomfort and conflict. Many times, we fail to deal with them appropriately or even ignore the problem itself. When we do this, eventually, these problems get infected. But the reality is, the frustration, irritation, and conflict could have been avoided if we had just started by dealing with the problem appropriately in the beginning.

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church…” 

– Matthew 18:15-20

Scripture clearly says that we need to lovingly approach people one-on-one. If the person doesn’t hear us, we must include someone else in our ministry who can hold us accountable for what was discussed. If we are still having trouble, the leaders need to be involved.

People rarely deal with the splinters in their lives. Many leaders pretend everything is fine and don’t give voice to their frustrations. We are all human and broken, so we have to recognize our frustrations and speak openly about our issues. When we deal with our problems more frequently, it allows for easier conversations. Confronting our frustrations and irritations creates an environment of trust and accountability.

Difficult conversations foster a different kind of tone on a team – creating an environment where people want to continually grow and improve. As a leader, you can create a culture of honesty, vulnerability, and openness by dealing with the splinters present in your organization. The deeper this new kind of culture is established, the more future splinters will be prevented. 

We need to remember that being a spiritual leader means we need to be confident, transparent, humble, able to effectively cast vision, build confidence and promote unity. If your spiritual sight is clouded by frustrations and discomfort, you won’t be able to speak with clarity and promote unity within your team. This splinter can infect their time, productivity, chemistry, and ultimately the longevity of the team. Avoiding splinters can also infect your organization, setting a precedent of keeping up a facade rather than being honest and vulnerable about the reality of the organization’s health. 

There are two things leaders have to do immediately.

    1. Identify the splinter.
    2. Decide how to deal with the splinter.

Identifying Splinters

Many people don’t confront splinters out of fear. Confrontation can reveal where we’ve sinned, or where a team is not unified. Being honest with those attitudes and actions is not something that we are naturally motivated to engage in. But without the confrontation, the wound festers. Healing can’t come until we confront the issue. 

There are many things that can be considered splinters in a team: 

    • A poor attitude 
    • Unclear expectations 
    • Passive aggression 
    • People working outside of their delegated responsibilities 
    • Lack of direction and vision 
    • Someone who does less than the rest of the team 
    • People who take credit for everything 
    • Complaining

How to Deal with Splinters

As spiritual leaders, we need to be able to have hard conversations. A few things that we must do when addressing splinters and having hard conversations are:

    1. Ask yourself if what the person on our team did/didn’t do was biblical? And is this a biblical issue? 
    2. Ask yourself, “Am I part of the problem?” and if so, own it. 
    3. Ask questions. Asking questions opens the door to healthier conversations. And if you fail to ask questions, you will let pride destroy your ministry.
    4. Remember who you are talking to is loved by God- look at them for who they are/can be in Jesus Christ.
    5. Pray for the person. Ask yourself and evaluate: Have you spent more time praying for them or talking about them?

Joel Wayne

Founder of Be The Church

Joel Wayne has spent twenty years improving leadership and cultivating healthy culture within organizations and churches in Connecticut, Kentucky, and Michigan. He currently serves as Lead Pastor for Chapel Pointe in Michigan. Joel’s dynamic communication style conveys his enthusiasm for developing strong leaders focusing on Vision, Strategy, and Implementation to create an overall organizational reset. He currently lives in Michigan with his wife and four children.