Nehemiah’s 5 Steps for Handling Conflict

By Rick Warren

In Nehemiah 5 the Israelites face conflict for the same reason we do today – selfishness. So what can we learn from Nehemiah about handling conflict?

1. Get angry. (v. 6) Nehemiah didn’t ignore the problem, he took it seriously. When the unity of your church gets challenged, it’s your job to protect the unity of your church. It’s serious business.

In times like this anger is completely appropriate and right. There is the right kind of anger and the wrong kind of anger. Leadership is knowing the difference. A pastor who doesn’t have enough fire in his belly to get angry about disunity isn’t much of a leader.

2. Think before you speak. (v. 7) If you only do step one and ignore step two, you’ll get in lots of trouble. Nehemiah 5:7 says, “I pondered them in my mind.” Nehemiah stopped, got alone with God and thought about what he was going to do. He asked God, “What do YOU want me to do?”

You should get angry when disunity threatens your church, but you have to think before you act. You can’t just act on that anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”  I’ve seen a lot of leaders who were very effective for the Lord and blow their ministry in an impulsive moment. Don’t let that happen to you. Get angry, but then take some time to think and pray about what you do next.

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, a global Internet community for pastors.