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When you can’t get along

Anger.  Frustration.  Anxiety.

What happens inside you when you experience conflict?  And what do you choose to do with the relationships that bring this conflict?

This isn’t meant to be a treatise on conflict, but I do have a few thoughts as it relates to ministry.  Whether accurate or not, haven’t you heard the contention that the number one reason for missionaries to leave the field isn’t lack of fruit, opposition or finances – but conflict with teammates?  Or watched a church split that wasn’t really about theology or ministry philosophy, but actually about personalities?

Some debate the root of a conflict and aim to find sin.  Others look to mediate, trying to find common ground and resolution.  One thing is certain – conflict is real and it is common.  That’s why leaders in ministry can quickly point out principles on how to deal with others (e.g. Matthew 5 – resolve things before worship; Matthew 7 – “the speck & the log”; Matthew 18 – how to approach someone who sins against you) and can often personalize Galatians 2:11 “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.”  (On the other hand, when Paul and Barnabas part ways because of their differing assessments of John Mark, the record in Acts 15 isn’t quite as clear as to who’s “in the wrong.”)

I’ve walked through my own share of conflict with friends, extended family and in ministry settings, so I don’t presume to have solutions.  But I am learning how to work through them and find peace despite them.

Questions I try to process when experiencing conflict:

  • Can I move forward even if it isn’t determined who’s right, who’s wrong and who has sinned?
  • How does God’s grace apply to me and others in this conflict?
  • What do I want God to do for me?
  • Where is the path to peace in this?  First with God, then others.
1 Comment
  1. Carolyn Teas
    Sep, 23, 2010

    Amen! When in doubt, love people anyway. Always assume the best of others. Don’t take things personally. And sometimes it’s “right” to be wronged (1 Cor 6:7-8). Speak the truth with kindness and respect. Forgive, forget and move on! Focus on the potential and praise God for progress. Look for the good even in the bad because that’s where God’s working. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” is the heart beat of grace and catalyst of peace. I always say that “irons sharpens iron” because there is friction involved. Friction smooths out the rough edges.