LINWOOD, Neb. — American Baptist clergy in Nebraska learned that some approaches to negotiation in business also might work in ministry.
Longtime psychologist and business consultant Karl Slaikeu shared his Preferred Path concepts with about 30 clergy in a three-day retreat Oct. 6-8 at Moses Merrill Camp and Conference Center near Linwood.
Slaikeu turned to psychology because he “hated” being a PK (a preacher’s kid) while growing up, yet developed empathy for pastors and wanted to minister to them.
After earning a Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary, he decided he was not called to be a pastor but to help pastors through behavioral psychology. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and has worked primarily with corporate psychology.
Now he has turned principles he developed in the business world to minister to pastors and congregations for conflict resolution or consensus building. He plans to launch Preferred Path Ministries in January.
The psychologist uses standard solutions and negotiation techniques but also makes certain accountability and restitution are included. Those two concepts allow the parties involved to reach forgiveness and transformation.
Among several tools Slaikeu developed is the conflict grid, which he called an intellectual model that brings information together from several sources. The grid is used to examine each party’s interests, other facts each deems important, each participant’s best alternatives to a negotiated agreement and each person’s possible solutions.
The information can be used to help the parties reach an integrative solution to the conflict or reach consensus for a program or plan, such as determining best use of the building or developing a youth group.
Created to use with secular companies, the grid has a spiritual/scriptural component for churches and other faith-based organizations. Slaikeu included Matthew 18:15-17, when someone has offended a believer; Matthew 5:23-24, when a person feels a believer has offended him/her; Philippians 2:4, believers called to look out for one another; Matthew 18:21-22, forgiveness; and 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, the call to a ministry of reconciliation.
The psychologist urged participants to use the grid “to listen in a more differentiated way.”
Slaikeu’s patented model is designed to be integrated into organizational policy and procedures. The Presbyterian church he attends has adopted his model.
The Nebraska native earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is author of six books, including “When Push Comes to Shove: A Practical Guide for Mediating Disputes.”
In 2009-10, he worked with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan to assist coalition forces to assess and address local needs. He has taught at the University of South Carolina and the University of Texas at Austin. His consultancy is based in Austin.
American Baptist Churches of Nebraska sponsored the retreat, which also included worship, fellowship and rest.