If you are a leader, you will have to learn how to deal with conflict. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It will come your way.

There are good ways and bad ways to deal with it. The one thing you don’t want to do is put your head in the sand and hope it will magically disappear. Chuck Lawless, Seminar professor and pastor shares some things he wished he’d known as a young pastor. Read and learn!

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

As I write this post, I’m in a time of reflection. I’ve been thinking about how I deal with difficult situations as a 59-year old pastor compared to how I dealt with things as a 20-year old rookie preacher. I’m not suggesting that my story is everybody’s story, but here are some things I’ve learned that help me today:

  1. Things are seldom as bad as they seem. They might be—so I don’t want to ignore those pastors who’ve faced genuinely tough ministry situations—but I’ve learned that I sometimes imagine a situation to be worse in my mind than it really is.
  2. If the Lord continues to give us life, the sun will come up tomorrow. That is to say, God is still in charge, and He is a giver of hope. A new day is a reminder that things can get better.
  3. A good night’s sleep can do wonders. I realize, of course, that conflict sometimes robs us of sleep. I’ve learned, though, that I then need to ask God to grant me sweet rest in the midst of anguish—and He gives grace.
  4. For every troublemaker in the church, there are godly people. The troublemakers can be loud and boastful, so we often get distracted from seeing the goodness of God’s people. Knowing there are godly people who stand beside you will help you deal with the conflict.
  5. It’s not very wise to fight through conflict alone. This point relates directly to the previous one on this list. God gives us brothers and sisters to walk with us—and it’s unwise (dumb, even) to try to fight by ourselves.
  6. Poor discipleship contributes to conflict. People who remain baby believers seldom know how to deal with disagreement in a spiritually mature way. They’re responsible for their actions, but non-discipling churches don’t help them much.
  7. We often exacerbate conflict by responding too quickly. It’s hard to change directions once that quickly-written email is sent. A word spoken in haste has often done its damage before we’ve thought about what we said. I’m still learning to wait before responding whenever that’s possible.
  8. God’s in charge, and He uses conflict to grow us. We may not like it when the conflict is present tense, but here’s what I’ve learned over many years: I’m a better follower of Christ because of what I’ve learned in the most difficult days of my ministry. Particularly, God has more often than not driven me necessarily to my knees—which is always a good place to be.

What have you learned through ministry conflict?