But that also means you must work to keep your congregation as conflict free as possible. Here are five ways to confront conflict, suggested by Paul in Philippians 2 —
1. Defuse competition. “Never act from motives of rivalry.” (Philippians 2:3, Phillips) Our society teaches us instant gratification. When my needs conflict with your needs, we have trouble. We live in a very competitive world. Too often we’re competing with people on our own ministry teams—instead of complimenting them. Many of us participated in sibling rivalry as a kid. The problem is, we’re doing the same thing today as adults. Those you serve with aren’t competitors; they’re family members – whether they’re fellow staff members, laypersons in your church or the pastor of the church down the street.
2. Delete conceit. “Never act from motives of personal vanity.” (Philippians 2:3, Phillips) To reduce conflict in your ministry, get rid of your prideful attitude. Don’t do what you do just to show yourself off or gain praise or glory from others. Someone who is arrogant is an “I” specialist. His “I’s” are too close together. All he can see is himself. The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction.” The person who gets too big for his britches will eventually be exposed in the end.
3. Decrease criticism. “In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3c, NLT) Paul means that we should treat others as “worthy of respect.” Don’t put people down. Treat them better than yourself. Whenever I criticize others in a judgmental attitude, I’m playing God. It makes me feel superior. We think we’re building ourselves up by putting other people down. The Bible says the exact opposite. If you want to get rid of conflict in your life, reduce the amount of criticism you aim at others.
4. Demonstrate consideration. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4, NLT) The Greek word for look in Philippians 2:4 is “scopos,” which is where we get the word scope. It’s like a scope on a rifle. Telescope in on the concerns of others. Pay attention to them. When we don’t do that, we have ministry conflict – or conflict with our wives, children or neighbors.
5. Develop Christ-likeness. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:5, NIV) Jesus was a master at relationships. He is our model for living and a great example for how to engage people. If you want to know how to get along with people, even those who are hard to get along with, look at Jesus. Get the same attitude He had.
What was his attitude? Paul tells us in Philippians 2:
- V. 6 – He didn’t defend his rights but willingly gave them up.
- V. 7 – He had a service attitude.
- V. 8 – He was willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Here’s what it comes down to: let Jesus Christ live through you. When Jesus Christ is in me and Jesus Christ is in you, conflict will flee. Wherever there is disunity, there is sin. When there’s conflict, somebody isn’t living like Jesus.