Conflict is not necessarily a problem. How they are dealt with, nor not dealt with, is a problem. Chuck Lawless shares 10 reasons  pastors and staff have conflict. The principles Chuck shares apply to any working relationship; in the family, in business, in the government. I’m trusting you will identify a few that will be personally helpful as you deal with, not ignore, conflict.

Conflict is not the problem. How you deal with it is!

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless


Since the Garden of Eden, the enemy has tried to divide the people of God. It happens in marriages, families, churches . . . and church staffs. In my work of interviewing pastors and staff in church consultations, here are several reasons for that division and conflict:

  1. Nobody set clear expectations at the beginning. Unstated expectations on the part of the pastor or the staff produce conflict. This conflict often happens when a new pastor inherits a staff.
  2. They seldom pray together. If they pray at all, it’s at the beginning and end of a staff meeting. Perfunctory praying seldom produces strong teams.
  3. The staff never see the senior pastor. In fact, they so seldom see him that any unexpected office visit he makes creates anxiety and fear.
  4. None of them can articulate a clear vision for the church. That usually means the church has no vision, from the top down – and that lack of direction creates a void often filled by conflict. 
  5. They’ve never really dealt with previous conflicts. Unresolved difficulties in the past only put bricks in a wall that just keeps getting taller.
  6. They don’t know each other outside of the office. Everyone is a boss or employee rather than brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes, they don’t even know the names of each other’s spouse and children.
  7. Somebody has hidden, unforsaken sin in his or her life. Secret sin in any leader’s life will eventually create some kind of interpersonal strife in the group. That’s just what sin does when shame and guilt eat at one’s soul.
  8. Somebody’s sticking around too long. Sometimes it’s simply time for a pastor or staff member to move on – but that move hasn’t happened. Internal strife is often a result.
  9. Nobody admits the conflict. They know it’s going on, but they don’t admit it. The staff becomes like a married couple in conflict: living in the same house, but not talking.
  10. They allow generational differences to be a source of conflict, not a source of growth. Rather than complementing each other, they compete with each other. That’s ungodly.

What other reasons have you seen or experienced?