This is the first of two articles that may help with difficult situations at work, within an organization, or even at home. For the sake of simplicity, I will use work as the setting. Use this within whatever circumstances fit for you.

Here's the scenario:

Someone at work goes to the boss and declares that you are not pulling your weight. The boss then makes a declaration that because "everyone" is not doing as they should, everyone is going to be punished by being given more work, or by changing around everyone's responsibilities.

The mistakes with that reaction are:

•The boss took one person's word as being true.

•The boss did not check the facts.

•The boss lumped everyone into the situation instead of checking with the person about whom the matter was raised.

The mistakes could lead to:

•Hurt feelings.

•Very upset and disgruntled workers.

•People responding by doing only the minimum to satisfy requirements.

•People looking for new jobs or simply quitting.

There is a biblical, Christian way to deal with such matters. Jesus tells us that if we have a dispute with another person we are to go to that person to settle it. If that doesn't work, take two people with you as witnesses to your attempt to settle the matter. If that doesn't work, go up the chain to rectify it.

Those in a leadership position, biblically speaking, should check the facts before doing anything. Do not take one person's word of complaint or criticism of another as truth. What the other has said may simply be an attempt to discredit another. It may be an attempt at self-promotion. It may be an attempt to simply stir up trouble.

A better way to deal with the matter is to have the complainer remain seated while the one complained about is brought in to deal with the matter. Then, have the complainer state once again the criticism or concern raised to you.

There are several possible outcomes.

•The complainer will retract their criticism before the "victim" arrives because it was false to begin with.

•You, as the boss, won't get sucked into a "he-said-she-said" debate.

•The victim will hear the complaint and be able to address the matter immediately.

If the criticism is merited, possible solutions can be discussed and the matter remains a private conversation among just the three of you.

Addressing conflict is never comfortable or easy. However, when handled carefully and with a biblical foundation, matters will stop festering and be resolved. Healing will take place and people will grow, become stronger, and work better and harder for having been treated as a human being with proper discipline and respect.

Next week I will share with you how, if you are ever the victim of such criticism, you can respond in a Biblical manner.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.