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May 30, 2014

JC president pens book about solving conflicts

JACKSONVILLE — “Can two walk together, unless they be agreed” asks the biblical prophet Amos (Amos 3:3).

The answer, said Dr. Mike Smith, is a resounding “yes.”

Smith, president of Jacksonville College, recently published Conflict: Causes & Cures, which gives readers the tools needed to find practical, biblical resolutions that are “win-win for everyone” despite the problem being resolved.

“What happens in most conflicts is that people won't talk to one another – but they will talk about one another with others,” he explained. “But when they sit down and talk together, they have a lot better chance of resolving the conflict because each begins to understand the other.”

This communication is not being in agreement or even compromising ideals, but a simple understanding that can lead to solutions to the problem

at hand.

“It's not asking people to compromise, but simply wanting to create a situation where it's win-win for both, not a win-lose for either side,” he said.

The basis for “Conflict: Causes & Cures” developed over a number of years, during Smith's tenure as a pastor and in other positions of ministry for the Baptist Church, in which he ministered to people who came to him with conflicts.

“I started going to certifications and seminars to learn more. I got my PhD. in leadership with a concentration in conflict management,"  he said. “In my ministry I mediated in more than 3,000 conflict cases.”

Which led him to presenting seminars on the topic “with material presented in PowerPoint format for about the last 20 years,” which in turn, led him to writing the book with encouragement from friends, Smith said.

The book – Scripturally based and supported by his years of academic research, as well as his real-life experiences in this particular ministry – “highlights the top ten causes of conflict in a lively case study format and discusses three necessary approaches to conflict – education, mediation and restoration,” according to a media release.

“Conflict: Causes & Cures” won the first place 2014 Christian Writers Award – sponsored by Xulon Press – in the category of Ministry. This award recognizes exceptional Christian authors who are independently published, the release states.

It took about a year to write the book, Smith said. The biggest challenge came toward the end of the writing process.

“I proofread (the manuscript), then I would rewrite and rewrite and rewrite,” he laughed.

His hope is that people will “take away from this book a desire to resolve conflict biblically,” he said, adding that the tools outlined for conflict resolution can be applied to any situation in which sides are at odds.

In fact, the book includes what he calls a “disc profile” which helps readers detect the kind of personality profile they fit, which in turn, “will reflect how you approach conflict,” he said.  

“A lot of people don't like conflict,” Smith said. “And I tell everybody that (conflict resolution) is not rocket science, but just a really practical way of living life in a biblical way, using common sense.”

Often, surprise is the response he gets from those whom he has helped.

“A lot of the time, people just cannot believe they had that much resistance – they just can't believe it's that simple,” Smith said.

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