Appreciative Way Logo
The Appreciative Way
Enabling Innovation at the Speed of Life           
Free Article
Conflict to Collaboration

Rob Voyle's Appreciative Way Blog

Register to Offer Comments, or Unsubscribe from Email Notification

Additional Articles By Year: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Doing the Unexpected this Christmas

Posted: December 20, 2011 by Rob Voyle

We live in a violent world where the response to violence is to be more
violent and overwhelm by force that which frightens us. Sometimes the
violence is physical, but in many cases, especially in the church, we
commit intellectual, emotional, and spiritual violence on one another
often with great theological justification. But that is not the way of
love that we get to celebrate at this time of the year.

Just when humanity would expect God to do something more violent and rid
the earth of each one of us God does the unexpected and comes and lives as
one of us. Every element of the incarnation and Jesus' story is one of
doing the unexpected. Born of humble and questionable parentage. And then
he hangs out with the poor, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and any
other marginalized group. It's just not what we expected.

Yesterday I received in the mail a copy of "Sweet Fruit from the Bitter
Tree: 61 Stories of Creative and Compassionate Ways out of Conflict." Its
a wonderful collection of short stories of people who have done the
unexpected in the midst of conflict to create an opportunity for peace and

The stories were gathered by Mark Andreas from a variety of sources around
the world. One of the commonalities Mark notes is that in each story the
person maintains their connection with the person they are in conflict
with, but with a twist - the connection is at a place of a shared value
and not the place of conflict.

For example a women is walking home at night and is being followed by a
man that makes her very uncomfortable. She turns and says to her pursuer,
" I am feeling very nervous, would you walk me home." At which point the
man takes her by the arm and walks her home. Sadly later that night the
man raped another woman.

For the woman in the story her doing the radically unexpected called forth
the "gentlemanly" nature of the man something they both could value. If
she had done the expected thing of trying to run or escape it would most
likely have called forth the rapist nature of the man.

When God and humankind are in conflict, God does the unexpected. By living
as one of us Jesus is expressing God's deepest valuing of humanity and
desire to stay connected with us. When this radically unexpected thing is
experienced in our hearts it calls forth the best from us - something that
both we and God can value.

From my experience, people don't change because I hate them, at least
change in the direction I desire. If you find yourself in conflict ask
Is my fear and anger getting me what I want?
If it isn't, ask what would be the radically unexpected thing to do. What
is something that we both could share and value?

I pray that in the midst of doing the unexpected you experience the joy of

If you would like to read a complete story from "Sweet fruit from the
Bitter Tree" or find information on how to purchase it please go to . For people who love stories and like to
"see" processes in action rather than read books of theory this is an
incredible resource and very much in keeping with this season of peace.

With Christmas Blessing
Rob Voyle

Leave a Comment...

See Restoring Hope for healing and change strategies based in the Appreciative Way.


Additional Articles By Year: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Previous Posts By Category

Previous Posts By Date








The Appreciative Way

The Appreciative Way
Discover the essentials of the
Appreciative Way in this fast
read format book by
Rob and Kim Voyle.

>>   View Contents

About the Author

Rob Voyle

Rob Voyle

The Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle is a leader in the development and use of appreciative inquiry in church and coaching settings.

Rob's Approach to Training

  • Helpful: Training must provide practical, sustainable solutions for today's challenges.
  • Humorous: Creativity and humor go together as people enjoy new insights.
  • Healing: I create opportunities for people to experience transformational insights that lead to new ways of living, working, and being in the world.

>>   See more on Rob's
        Helpful, Humorous, Healing
        approach to training.