KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM, KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM…
Dealing with Conflict in Ministry
If you’ve spent any time in ministry at all, chances are you have had conflict at some point. That sounds really negative that you could experience conflict in “ministry,” but we work with people and we ALL make mistakes. The issue is not IF you’ll have conflict, but WHEN you’ll have conflict. The integrity of your character and leadership is revealed by how you react to the conflict.
Now, I’ve never gambled in my life, but I’ve heard a few expressions that relate to gambling that I think will illustrate the point on how to deal with conflict. (I have to admit that I can barely play solitaire with my own self!) My mantra over the last two years of our church planting journey has been from that old Kenny Rogers’ song “The Gambler”.
Here’s a few of the pointers I’ve learned while dealing with conflict:
1. KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM
Confrontation — some thrive on it and some run from it, but there will come a time in your ministry when a well-meaning individual within your church will need confronting. They either do not know the protocols that have been set forth or they are purposely bending the rules.
When it comes to the integrity of the ministry that you are building, you have to hold your ground…even if it’s not received well.
2. KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM
So you’ve made a mistake. OWN IT. Pride, many times, gets in the way of ministry. We all have bad days and do things that we wish we hadn’t. Go to the person you’ve offended and say you’re sorry. Your people would much rather know you are real and make mistakes than some untouchable person that can’t humble themselves.
3. KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY
There will be occasions when the conflict is much like a “stand off”. Someone has rubbed you wrong, made a comment about your spouse or your child, and those are the times when you want to go from sweet pastor’s wife to “Church Planter Ninja” on somebody! But remember, we must lovingly and firmly lead people through this Christian walk. They will make mistakes just like we do, and sometimes you’ve just got to walk away and let things go.
4. KNOW WHEN TO RUN
It may just be our church, but I’m sure everyone everywhere experiences the occasional bit of drama that creeps up. And it’s in those moments that you know instantly to RUN! Get your spiritual tennis shoes on and bust a move. That’s not being cowardly, it’s being smart. You do not have to get involved in every bit of drama that happens in the families and individuals in your church.
In all conflict, remember this one truth: The fight isn’t necessarily against the one who’s making the loudest noise.
One of my pastor’s wives years ago made a scripture come alive for me. She said, “Stephanie, we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (our church people), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
When you look at conflict that way, as something the Devil is stirring up to cause division and erect walls up between your church family, it makes so much more sense and you’re able to handle the conflict with much more love and much more grace. My prayer for you is that if you’re in conflict right now that you would ask for wisdom and according to James chapter 1, God will give it to you liberally!
Press on in Love,