After three plus decades of leading organizations of all sizes, I am confident in this statement: “Wherever two or more have gathered…you’ve got problems. “
There is a great diversity in God’s creation. And that diversity is best seen in our human development. We have folks that repel any type of conflict, as if it were a trip through ulcer gulch. We have others that take up every offense and invite conflict like a runner training for their first marathon.
I’m of the opinion that wherever diversity exists, conflict is next in line. And that conflict exists whether it is vocalized or not. Our problem isn’t conflict, it is mismanaged conflict, or simply neglected conflict.
I am told that when President Bush was governor of Texas he had to deal with a lot of conflict. He came into office with a legislature that was in the opposite party. Early in his term he met with the opposition leader of the legislative branch with the hopes of building a cooperative coalition for the future. The meeting was a huge failure. There was no trust and no agreement. There was plenty of conflict. At the end of the session as Bush got up to leave, he suddenly reached over and grabbed the opposition leader with both hands and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. The man was completely stunned. He got red faced and stammered “What did you do THAT for!” Bush said, “If I can’t get your cooperation and help, I’m at least going to get a kiss!” The opposition leader broke up laughing and that was the beginning of friendship and the end of conflict
James 4:1-12 gives us a mouthful of leadership and conflict wisdom.
Society is riddled with conflicts every day and in every area of our lives. We run into it at work, at school, at home, in our community, in our neighborhoods, and yes even at church.
The truth is if you have relationships with others that relationship will eventually have a conflict. It could be minor or it could be major. But the reality is there will be times of conflict. Conflict is a part of life in this world and in the church. The New Testament church reveals that conflict has been a part of it from the beginning.
As Followers of Jesus, we need to learn that conflict – disagreements are going to surface in every facet of life. The mark of community-true, biblical unity-is not the absence of conflict. It’s the presence of a reconciling spirit.
The heartbeat that I want to communicate to each of us today is that conflict will occur in our lives with others. The key is how we handle that conflict.
Conflict can make life awkward. It often catches us off guard and leads us to say or do things we later regret. When someone offends us, we can react without thinking. Soon it’s as if we’re sliding down a mountain, with relationships going from bad to worse. So, what are we to do? Let’s jump into a novel thought…Follow God’s plan for conflict in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.
The Matthew 18 Principle for Solving Problems:
1. Keep the matter confidential.
The Bible has much to say about those who gossip or malign others with their words.
2. Keep the circle small.
Most problems are solved at the two-person level.
3. Be straightforward.
Jesus tells us to be forthright and to love honesty. Say what you mean. Mean what you say and say it in love.
4. Be forgiving.
Once the matter is resolved, we should wholeheartedly forgive and restore the other person whose fault has offended us.
5. The two should agree to discuss the matter with each other first.
An open and honest discussion will most often reach an amiable solution.
6. If this does not work, they should agree to share the matter with a pastor.
The goal of this meeting is to understand the problem clearly; solve the problem; reproof and correct, if necessary; and forgive and restore those involved.
7. The pastor, if necessary, will explain the situation to church leaders for their appropriate response. If the problem is not resolved, the two parties will present their case to the leadership.
Satan would like to destroy harmony and fellowship between Christians. That is not possible if all of us follow the Matthew 18 principle of solving problems.
When we speak only in truth. When we speak in love and honesty. When we look to make things right and stop trying to prove we are right, we will see conflict resolved as the Spirit of God is honored.
Seek Peace Today!