If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV
During a routine ministry meeting, I expressed my opinion on a particular topic relevant to our meeting. “Whoa!” said one of the members. “I’m not sure I agree with that.” This began a long discussion, with heated exchanges on both sides. At the end of the meeting, I felt awkward and nervous about the exchange, afraid that this would be the last time she’d come to a meeting. But you know what happened?
We walked away as friends. And she came back the following week.
When I spoke with her the following week, I wanted to make sure not only that she did not walk away angry at the altercation, but that we were ok as friends. Although I never changed my mind about my theological standpoint (nor did she), I cared enough about her enough to let her know that I still loved her even though we disagreed.
The apostle Paul and Barnabas disagreed with the crowds (Acts 15:1-2 NIV) and Jesus disagreed with Peter (Matthew 16:23 NIV). The more time we spend with someone, the more their weaknesses and thoughts are exposed. Conflict is inevitable. But what do you do when the conflict is between you and a member of your ministry?
Here are three things you can do when conflict arises in your church or ministry:
Nip it in the bud - If you perceive there is a problem, set aside time to meet with that person individually. Ask them what you can do to help you work through this issue.
Get a mediator - If you can’t resolve the issue between the two of you, ask a third party to act as a mediator between you and the other person. Make sure you choose a person who can look at the situation without bias or judgment. Then agree to meet at a neutral location such as a coffee shop or restaurant. This helps maintain your objectivity.
Come to a peaceable agreement (if possible) - Meet with people and face your issues directly. Doing this does not mean you will always come to a peaceable solution. Sometimes people are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions.
We all encounter conflict. As long as it stands with you, do everything within your power to make peace. Dealing with conflict in a biblical way not only helps your relationships, but makes you a better disciple too.
Lord, help us to deal directly and peaceably with people when conflict arises in our lives. Amen.