Positions vs. Interest




Positions are the demands, the "bottom lines" that disputants present in a conflict.


Interests are the human needs, concerns, feelings and values motivating each party to take their respective positions.


A critical skill, therefore, is to be able to "go below the line" to recognize the underlying needs and interests which lead people to take their positions.



POSITION                                                                        POSITION




INTEREST                                                                        INTEREST





 (A Call to join full time “faith based” Ministry)


POSITION 1                                                            POSITION 2

Husband (for)                                                        Wife (against)


INTERESTS                                                            INTERESTS

God will provide                                                     Financial insecurity

The Great Commission                                            Fear to raise support

The Holy Spirit will enable us                                 Fear of leaving in a different culture  



Obedience                                                             Medical facilities

Trust                                                                      Food/Comfort etc


What are the options?

Some husbands may force their wives to join, hoping it will get better.

Some try to find a compromise:  I will join ministry alone.  You can stay doing what you wish.


A better approach would be to take time to examine what deeper level interests there are for the two/several groups in the conflict situation.

Negotiate:  Explain WHY what you are suggesting is important to you.   Pray (on your own and/or with the other person/people concerned) for God's leading in the matter.    Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)


Remember that your perceptions are not the same as other people.

Push yourself to know what the other one thinks about.





1.    Apply the position vs. interests approach to an individual (or group/ tribe) you are in conflict with.


2.    Comment on the "positions and interests" when Jesus heals a lame man in John 5: 1 - 8.


               6. When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?"

               7. "I can't, sir," the sick man said, "for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up.  While I am                        trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me."

              8. Jesus told him, "Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!"


3.    Think of positions and interests in a conflict you have recently been involved in.  Suggest what would have been important to the other.


4.    Share opportunities in your ministry, presented by our faith to Glorify God, Serve others, Become like Christ.