Conflict at cost is visible everywhere. In light of this, Christians are to be the salt and the light of Jesus by promoting the gospel of peace by not only believing the gospel but living the gospel.
Conflict is unavoidable, as people are bound by their sinful nature. Conflict is not necessarily bad but often it is dealt with poorly and destroys relationships.
Studies show conflict is seen everywhere in pastoral ministry. Within the last five years, research states that the number of pastors leaving the ministry is close to 250 every month (Lifeway Survey 2015).
Looking closer at the reasons for leaving: Change in calling (37%); Conflict (26%); Family issues (17%); Moral or ethical issues (13%); Poor fit (13%); Burnout (10%); Personal finances (8%); Illness (5%); Lack of preparation (3%).
Conflict is visible everywhere. Out of those who indicated they left the church because of conflict; the reasons were because of: Personal attacks (34%); Proposed change (38%); Leadership style (27%); Expectations about the pastor’s role (25%); Doctrinal differences (13%); Differences with lay leaders (38%); Differences with church patriarchs/matriarchs (31%).
Why this topic? Conflict is tearing apart the bride of Christ. Here are five steps to remedy the conflict.
1. Thank the person for their investment.
Attitude is everything. Having the right heart and attitude changes the trajectory of the relationship. As James Dobson said, “It takes 10 affirmations to overcome one criticism.” Use words that build someone up.
It is incredible to see what happens to the one who speaks and those spoken to when the words are grace-filled and Spirit-empowered.
Always remember this when dealing with people: First, give the benefit of the doubt; second, understand that people are generally smart; and third, assume the other person has the best intention.
2. Resolve the conflict immediately.
I don’t know about you, but I avoid conflict as much as possible and hope it dissolves and disappears.
Though it may be difficult, followers of Christ are to represent the love of God and the power of the gospel by living in peace and unity with one another (2 Cor 5:19-20).
Jesus himself says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23-24).
The apostle Paul echoes what Jesus said: “In your anger do not sin;’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Eph 4:26). The more people think of anger and dwell upon it, the more anger resides and fosters within one’s heart.
3. Reconcile through face-to-face time.
Today, we live in a world that uses social media as a platform for venting. Rather than addressing conflict privately, as Scripture commands (Matt 18:15), issues are often addressed in ways that stir up toxic gossip. Next time you have a conflict, meet with the individual in person. Resist the urge to simply address a conflict by text message or phone call.
4. Keep the conflict between those with whom you have conflict.
The golden rule to conflict is this: Talk to the person you have an issue with. You don’t need to talk about it with 30 other people. Before you discuss the conflict with someone else, ask God for discernment (Phi 1:9-10).
5. If you’re unable to resolve the conflict, seek a mediator.
Biblical reconciliation is a command of Christ Himself: “By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35). The biblical concept of peace occurs approximately 550 times in the Bible. The word peace in Hebrew is shalom and is mentioned 225 times in the Old Testament.
Even if the person lacks the social skills to deal with the conflict, it is our responsibility to cancel the debt and work through the matter.