Last week I shared a post on my daily 3 at 3 from TJ Addingtonentitled Deal With It! Addington sheds light on a problem that is all too familiar in the church world: failure to confront relational issues. He nails it when he says:
In the name of grace (and I am a great believer in grace) and conflict avoidance we often prolong the pain to an organization even when we know in our gut that no matter what we do, nothing is going to change. By choosing avoidance we put anchors on the ministry that keep dragging along the bottom, slowing everything down while we are trying to catch the wind and sail. I have known pastors and leaders that could not let a staff member go even though they know in their heart of hearts that that member is hurting the rest of the team. I know leaders who would not deal with church thugs even though those individuals created chaos in the congregation. Avoidance does not work. It creates greater problems and pain and the longer one waits to address the problem the more difficult it is to do so.
Jeff McClung shared a video on his blog the other day that illustrates this perfectly:
Whether the conflict is between two small group members, staff members, or elders, unresolved conflict inflicts serious damage to far more than those who are directly involved. As a leader you are tasked with shepherding your flock well, and protecting it from those things that could do permanent harm. In the words of the pastor from the movie The Patriot: “A shepherd must tend his flock. And at times… fight off the wolves.”
In each context, fighting off the wolves looks a little different. It may mean confronting a church bully, firing a staff member, or bringing in outside help to work through conflict. Whatever your context, it means stepping up in boldness and dealing with the issue quickly, and in a God honoring way.
How do YOU handle relational conflict in YOUR church?