Written by Jayda Hooge

Have you ever worked with someone so different from you it seems the relationship could never turn out okay? I have.

One summer, I co-ran a teen leadership program at a Bible camp with another leader who had no experience at this particular camp and who I didn’t know that well. I’ll call him Lee. 

At the start of the spring, we had two months to prepare for the summer. I was wholly optimistic that Lee and I could figure this out together. We seemed to get along well in the beginning weeks. I tried to bring him up to speed on the camp and the leadership program. We had fun together and laughed a lot. 

But once the teens arrived and we started leading together, we quickly realized that we had very different leading and communication styles. I wanted us to share all information and make most decisions together. It appeared he had a more independent leadership style. 

At the time, I took this personally. As someone who shoves down negative emotions for as long as possible, you can imagine that this did not go well. 

During one particular group development activity with our students, I was a little annoyed but tried to put on a happy façade. This all went swimmingly until Lee changed the rules to the activity without asking my opinion first. The audacity! (Just kidding, but you bet I overreacted.)

I became an ice queen in two seconds flat and only answered in short, snippy sentences after that. I immediately decided I wasn’t going to try to work or communicate well with Lee anymore.

I let bitterness and anger seep into my heart, but God saw those ugly things taking root and was too gracious to let me sit in those life-draining feelings.

The next day, our supervisor called us both into her office for a meeting and said something along the lines of, “This isn’t couples counselling, but I really think you two need to talk to each other.” 

During that conversation, we both shared out perspectives. I needed more communication from him, and he needed more trust from me.

That doesn’t mean that it was super easy after that, but we had a better understanding of what the other person needed to lead well and work more effectively together.

That was a very hard and growing summer for me. I had to realize that my way of doing things doesn’t necessarily make sense to everyone. God revealed to me that I really like things done my way because I believe my way is the right way.

Realizing that felt like a punch in the face, but I began the process of repenting and asking God to shape me more into the image of Jesus.

I also learned that fighting against bitterness and striving to live in God’s grace and love is critically important for any relationship to last, whether that’s a relationship with a co-worker or a friend.

Forgiveness not only brings freedom to the other person, but it also releases us.

Ephesians 4:23 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” What relationships in your life do you need to bring in line with this verse?

Conflict isn’t bad in itself, but how we deal with conflict can either be helpful or harmful. This is something that I teach the teens I lead, and I need to remind myself of it as well. Sometimes, choosing to be kind, tenderhearted, and free with our forgiveness is really hard, but it is always worth it.