Some days, many leaders probably wish settling disputes were as simple as determining who holds the winning lottery ticket. That’s apparently pretty cut-and-dried, in spite of what Elecia Battle of Ohio says.
Some days, many leaders probably wish settling disputes were as simple as determining who holds the winning lottery ticket. That’s apparently pretty cut-and-dried, in spite of what Elecia Battle of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Ohio says.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
The “wisdom” of lotteries aside, Battle’s story made national headlines recently.
She claimed to have purchased the winning ticket in the Dec. 30 drawing for the Mega Millions multi-state lottery and thereby should receive the $162 million payoff. The problem, she said, is that she lost the ticket.
Rebecca Jemison, also of Ohio, later stepped forward with the ticket and was certified as the winner, opting for a lump-sum payment of $67.2 million after taxes.
Before Jemison appeared on the scene, police believed Battle’s story. She told them she picked the numbers based on birthdays and ages of family members. But Jemison’s ticket “obviously draws into question the integrity of Elecia Battle’s report,” said Lt. Kevin Neitert of the South Euclid, Ohio, police department.
Now Battle faces the possibility of misdemeanor charges for lying in a police report, punishable by 30 days to six months in jail. She hired a lawyer and filed suit in an effort to prove that the money is rightfully hers. Later, she dropped the suit and admitted that she made up the story.
Jemison was initially angered by Battle’s claims but never worried. “I knew what I possessed,” she said. She evidently possessed not only the winning ticket, but also enough additional proof to convince lottery officials that she, and not Battle, had originally purchased the ticket. And that wasn’t even necessary, according to the rules, which state that whoever turns in a valid ticket is legally entitled to the winnings.
While the stakes in the Battle/Jemison dispute were high, they were nothing compared with those in the story of the two women whose argument made it all the way to the attention of King Solomon. At the center of their controversy was a baby. Both women claimed to be his mother; only one, of course, actually was. The other woman’s child had died.
In perhaps one of the Bible’s strangest stories, Solomon suggested dividing the surviving baby between the two women. When one of them vehemently protested, he declared she must be the child’s mother, thereby avoiding a “split decision.”
With leadership comes the responsibility to settle disputes. Some are as simple as referring to an established rule or procedure. Others require careful listening, accurate interpretation, profound wisdom and decisive action. Stakes and emotions are often high.
The nature of disputes and disagreements means that people usually take sides, and each side thinks it is right and best. The longer the dispute or disagreement rages, the greater the chance that people will say and do hurtful things and further widen the chasm.
Leaders who practice godly wisdom are often able to make decisions without creating divisions. They realize the importance of nurturing a climate in which people can discuss opposing views without becoming bitter enemies. They do this by building a team where trust, cooperation, respect and genuine caring prevail.
Disputes don’t always have to end with a winner and a loser on opposite sides. With an effective leader and cooperative followers, they can sometimes result in a stronger and more productive team.
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.
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