Archives For upper management conflict

Today is part two of a four part series about engaging in conflict with upper management. You can read yesterday’s post here, Why Engaging Upper Management in Conflict is Important.


An example of conflict from scripture is in 1 Samuel 28:7-22.


The context of this section of scripture is the mentally ill Saul (who we know was tormented by an evil spirit) is searching for David to kill him. For years Saul has attempted to hunt down and kill David. As a result, David and his men are hiding in a cave in the wilderness of En-gedi. While in the cave David is tempted to kill Saul but instead just cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe. Then Saul walks out of the cave, and David decides to confront Saul. It could be argued that until this point of David’s confrontation, he has been wrongly treated by Saul. Scripture tells us that David has been an outstanding commander and man of war in the Israelite army.

In fact, David was more successful than any of the other commanders in Saul’s army, yet Saul unjustly attempts to kill David on several occasions. And those attempts to kill David have caused Davod great emotional harm because he had to flee to the wilderness to hide, he had to move his family to keep them safe. The relationship with his best friend, Jonathan (who is also Saul’s son and next in line to become king), is in high tension, and he has lost his wife because of the conflict with Saul. As David follows Saul out of this cave, he decides to take a stand and confront Saul for the unjust treatment he has received by saying,

My lord the king! . . . . Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 10This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’11Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me. . . . 15May the Lord therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power![1]

I think David does a great job of confronting Saul about the wrong things that he feels Saul has done to him. He does not just vent his emotions to Saul, (even though I am sure David was emotional), but he states his opinion that is based on fact. David declares that he will not stand for Saul attempting to kill him.

There comes a point when even if your boss secures your job and/or signs your paycheck, that extreme poor treatment should not be allowed to happen. You are a whole person and “when another’s expression of anger, rage, or contempt burns out of control, you have a responsibility to protect yourself. Listening to belittling; hostile blame; ridicule; demeaning or untrue accusations; sarcastic name-calling; contempt; or actual physical threats is not good conflict management.”[2] One should not attack the unjust person but should not allow unjust behavior to happen, which is what we see here with David. David does not want to “win.” He just wants Saul to know that Saul is in the wrong, that David is going to allow God to judge each of them, that they should find a way to work together to seek the common good for both parties.[3]

The next few verse tell us that David and Saul actually talk out the issue and come to a resolution where Saul confesses he has been wrong and David goes the opposite way.

Question: How do you stand up against unjust treatment?

[1] 1 Samuel 24:7-22 (New Living Translation)

[2] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 215.

[3] Jean M. Bartunek and Barbara E. Bowe, Transformational Management of Conflict: A Perspective from the Early Christian Church, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 1, no. 2 (1998): 157.