Conflict, Lemonade & the Necessity of Respect

Aug 22, 2017

The conflict began with eight kids, a lemonade stand, and crazy high hopes.

Of course, there was no hint of conflict when the Country Time was mixed with the water and ice. Nor was there any tension when I baked two pans of chocolatey cookies to boost their product sales (and curb their appetite). It was all smiles and dollar signs.

We need a garbage sack. Every store has a trash! 

How about a table? 

Go tell your mom we need a bigger pitcher. 

And signs! We need signs! 

An hour or two passed without incident. But then the profits poured in. A couple kids grew distracted by a basketball hoop. Another felt he was working harder than the rest. Yet another joined late in the game.

That’s when my ten-year-old came home, frustrated:

“I got fired.”

Fired?! I didn’t know a guy could get fired from a lemonade stand. Tough crowd.

“What happened?” This was going to be good.

“Mark fired me. Said I wasn’t working hard enough. He doesn’t want to pay me.”

So that’s how, in the middle of a perfect 80-degree Saturday, I hauled myself to the end of the block and ended up negotiating terms with eight disgruntled kids fighting over wage inequality.

“Okay, kids. Gather round. We’re going to have a conversation.”

I used my serious voice, but tempered the intimidation. These were children, learning skills many adults don’t possess. All the more reason to create an environment for growth.

With eight faces looking into mine, I talked about negotiating conflict. Navigating hard feelings. And the importance of treating one other with dignity and respect, even when we’re mad.

Because relationship matters.

“Grown-ups struggle with this, too,” I assured them. “You’re not the only ones. We think hard feelings justify poor behavior. But it’s just not true. Every person is entitled to dignity, civility and respect. Regardless of whether or not you feel like it or think they deserve it.”

I paused for effect. Theirs and mine.

“Besides, how you treat someone doesn’t say anything about them. It only says something about YOU.” 

Eight pair of eyes stared back at me. Perhaps the quietest our neighborhood had been in decades.

“I just think you can do better. In fact, I know you can.”

A few heads nodded.

“Do you think you guys can work together to come up with a solution, one that shows respect to everyone here? Because I’m guessing, later this afternoon, you’re going to want to have some friends to play with.”

They agreed. We high-fived. And then I left them to it.

Fifteen minutes later, they all showed up at my house, smiling and making plans for how they were going to spend the rest of the day.


Now. It’s our turn, friend. You and me.

Gather round, because we’re going to have a conversation.

People do a lot of dumb things, as you know. They’re going to hurt you. Offend you. Fail you. Sometimes they’re going to lie or break trust or do things that are flat-out wrong. Temporary insanity happens to the best of us. And when it does, conflict is going to happen.

But here’s the deal:

  1. Everyone is entitled to dignity, civility and respect. Regardless of how you feel about them. And regardless of whether or not you think they deserve it. Every person you meet has been created in the image of God, is a child of God. That alone should cause us pause. Besides, He’s the kind of Father that doesn’t take kindly to those who mistreat His kids.
  2. How you treat someone doesn’t say anything about them. It only says something about YOU. Go ahead and read that again until it radically changes your behavior. Because it should. Our inability to treat other humans with basic human respect says a whole lot about the condition of our hearts. The two greatest commands in the Bible, according to Jesus, is (1) Love God and (2) Love others. If we can’t get those two things right, the rest of our reading and churching and ministry doesn’t matter much.

I think we can do better. In fact, I know we can.

If eight pre-adolescent children could figure out how to work through lemonade conflict to enjoy a Saturday together, then us grown-ups can learn how to do the same.

And maybe it’ll keep us from wasting our Saturdays fighting over lemonade stands.

P.S. Being that I single-handedly diffused a eight-man brou-ha-ha, I have now deemed myself the Neighborhood Ambassador of Peace.

N.A.P. for short.

Which makes me extraordinarily happy.

The end.

{NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.}

[reminder]Be honest. How well do you handle conflict? Can you do better? I know for a fact that I can. Let’s do it. [/reminder]


  1. Deb Bagley

    Thank you Michelle, this was a great reminder. I feel blessed.

  2. Diana

    This truly touched my heart. That sentence about how you treat others doesn’t ‘ say anything about them, it says something about you; how you are in the heart! (Paraphrased-sorry). I know the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it.” Reading your sentence brought me to my knees in a broken heart!!!! Oh how deceived my heart has been! Thank you for sharing this! You have partnered with God and the Holy Spirit to show me, what lies I have believed! God Bless and keep you, Michelle Cushatt!

  3. Emra

    How beautifully said Michele! So needed in a world where conflict seems the norm. With your permission I would like to post this on my blog. We need the wisdom!

  4. Theresa

    If N.A.P. ever goes global – I’d like to apply for a position with the company 🙂
    In all seriousness, thank you for this message. Respect is so easy when all is going smooth. But the moment our feathers are ruffled we tend to get defensive, even ugly. As I was reading your message today, I was reminded of Paul’s words in Philipians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
    Have an amazing day all, and thank you Michele for your words of wisdom. They have set the tone for a great day!

  5. Damon J. Gray

    God has infused you with such wisdom and clarity Michele. Thank you for your willingness to press that investment forward into others. As for the rules, I believe my level of alignment fluctuates. I do not disagree with any of them, and have appropriately applied every one of them – at times! Then there are those other times when … well, you know. Not so much. This is why I make notes to myself, tangible reminders. “Remember now … “

  6. Jackie Hobbins

    Love this post… and you are definitely an N. A. P. You need a t-shirt.

  7. Diane Tarantini

    I love this piece. Especially: “How you treat someone doesn’t say anything about them. It only says something about YOU.” And this: “I have now deemed myself the Neighborhood Ambassador of Peace.
    N.A.P. for short. Which makes me extraordinarily happy.” You’re adorable. And wise:)
    Also, I listened to your “life balance” podcast over at at Communicator Academy. Excellent work, you two.

  8. Diane B. Albrecht

    I do know how you feel. A nurse missionary to the Middle East lead me to military service n the Middle East. This was 2 years before the Gulf war. Chosen the Young Healthcare Administrator of the world for the USAF. Didn’t know of this contest only wanted to glorify my Lord. Murder attempt by USAF military members, why because I am a woman yes but really because I was a Christian. God delivered me from death and I married. But I have suffered from pain and difficulty ever since. 2009 I had a massive Pulmonary embolism- again unto death but no so for our God. My husband is now 64 and I 62. Provided only by our Lord. My husband forgetful and slightly confused, I seeking to Glorify Him as a disabled wife. Unable to care completely for myself or my husband. My pain and weakness still present. I live each day as taught by the Word. ” give us this day our daily bread..” Friends wonder why do you always write, call, pray or stop by with a flower or food. Because I know how short life can and how long eternity will be. I have really prayed for to know my Heavenly Father’s Heart. An bit by bit I learn of His Perfect, Everlasting Love. God Bless you Michele. My name is Diane. I will meet you one day in Our Father’s House.


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