Dealing with conflict among people you work with or lead can be a really tough thing to do. Some of us want to avoid it at all costs. Others make it more than it is. And yet another group thinks about it far more than they have to. Maybe its optimism but I’m convinced that most people want to bring resolve to the issues and tensions of their lives so whatever we naturally do is ultimately an attempt at resolve. In 12 years of ministry and 33 years of life, I’ve learned that just desiring resolution doesn’t always get us there. As a result, I just spent an evening walking some of our leaders through a flowchart of how to respond to conflict based on Matthew 18:15-17 and how addressing issues Biblically leads to reconciliation and restoration. Hopefully it helps you out! I’m going to include some notes at the bottom for explanation…
- Ryan Blaylock
Couple things to know about the flowchart above.
First, listening to someone complain about another follower of Christ when they haven’t addressed it with that person is gossip and therefore sin. Don’t do it.
Second, if they have talked to the person about it, it’s helpful to know when they talked to them. Was this 2 years ago or 2 days ago? Also, if they have talked to them recently, you can listen to their frustration and you’re trying to determine if the issue is a sin issue based on the Bible or a preference issue based on conflicting personalities. If it’s sin, you should go with the concerned person to the person they’re concerned about and address the concerns again. That gives a witness to the whole thing. If it’s not a sin issue but simply a personal preference, Proverbs 17:9 and 19:11 encourage us to allow our love for that person to “overlook” their offense. It doesn’t mean we ignore it. It means we choose not to focus on it.
Third, if the person complaining to you hasn’t addressed with the other person, stop listening. Ask them when they’ll talk to them. For our context at Element, this should be within the next 2 weeks. Follow up with them afterward and see how it went. If they talked to them, go back to step 1. If not, you need to bring someone else in as a witness to your conversation and correct the person who refuses to address their conflict. People died and churches have split due to a lack of authenticity in the church and it will destroy our teams if we allow it to exist. Also, it’s not honoring to avoid conflict.
Lastly, if you’ve been part of a 2-on-1 conversation and the person hasn’t corrected their actions, you need to bring that to church leadership. For Element’s sake, you need to bring that to Ryan. Scripture instructs us to bring it to the Elders and that’s what needs to be done.
I said this before and I want to say it again, correcting a believer is meant to help them reconcile to God and one another. It is not meant to divide. Having the tough conversation is worth it for their relationship.