Facing Conflict: Go to God First

By Rick Warren

When faced with conflict, the first thing we should do is go to God. Too often, it is the last thing we do.

Ask God about what’s causing the conflict. You might be able to end the conflict right there. James 4:2 says, “You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” (NIV) Maybe your conflict comes from your need to control your ministry situation—and God is saying, “Let me be in control.” Or maybe you’re in need of affirmation and you’re expecting that to come from others and not God.

Your ministry position was never meant to meet the needs only God can meet. No matter how many people you help, no matter how many people hear your sermons or how many times you get a pat on the back, you’ll never be satisfied outside of God Himself. You may preach that every week. But are you living it?

As you pray, let God reveal to you how much of the conflict is on you. Before you start accusing and blaming other people, deal with your side of the fence. Check yourself out. Do you have a blind spot that may be leading to this conflict? Jesus says this in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (NIV)

No ministry conflict is just one person’s problem. You’re in ministry as part of a community. You serve with other people—whether they’re fellow pastors, staff members or volunteers. Conflicts are “our problem” not “their problem.” The Bible says in I John 1:8, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (NLT) Pastor, be honest. Nobody’s perfect. We’ve all made mistakes and do dumb things from time to time. Admit your part of the conflict, ask for forgiveness and move on.

Don’t forget that Jesus died to defeat the conflict in your ministry. The mutual commitment to Christ you share with those in ministry is a prime foundation for ending conflict. Ephesians 2:16 says, “Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” Having a common commitment to Jesus will give you the desire and the power (through the Holy Spirit) to deal with conflict.

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.