Friday, October 21, 2016

Leadership Lessons Series: Conflict Resolution

Key Verse
“with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love;” Ephesians 4:2 WEB


Conflict. It’s a dreaded word. No one likes it, yet it never goes away. It is a result of sin and has been present since Adam and Eve first ate the forbidden fruit. And, we can be sure it will continue until Jesus comes again a restores all. But we do not have to fear it. Jesus himself did not shy away from conflict. He often engaged those who purposely tried to use conflict against him. He used it to teach lessons. He also used it to show the true nature and intent of those who sought to undermine him. What can we learn from Jesus about how to deal with conflict?

The most important lesson Jesus reiterated over and over was humility. The Bible teaches humility from cover to cover. And Jesus especially stressed this. Humility is difficult. But it is necessary for swift conflict resolution. Western society tends to view humility as weak. That is untrue. Humility usually takes more strength and character than lashing out and hurling accusations. Humility means to listen and be patient. It means to consider the other parties view prior to concluding it is erroneous. Jesus never cut other off, but let them finish before making His counter arguments. Patients and love were always central to his conflict resolution. See Ephesians 4:2.

Once we have a humble attitude, then we can proceed to solve the conflict. Jesus left some very specific advice for resolving conflict in Matthew 18. It specifically addresses disagreements in church, but the principles apply in any situation whether church, school, work, or home. We often desire to be provided with simple, straightforward steps we can take to accomplish things. It this case, Jesus gave us some simple steps to settle disputes by. There are 7 steps laid out in verse 15-17. Here they are:

1. “Initiate the contact (v. 15).

2. Confront the person in private (v. 15).

3. If no resolution comes, meet again with one or two more people, [perhaps including a superior] (v. 16).

4. Confirm the facts in the meeting and work towards a solution (v. 16).

5. If no resolution comes, bring the issue before the church or organization (v. 17).

6. Agree on the truth and appropriate options for the offender (v. 17).

7. If no resolution comes, release the offender from the church or organization (v. 17).”1 If you are not in a position to do this, consider if you must separate yourself from the church or organization.

There are two final but no less important keys to remember. We should always do our best to live in harmony with everyone, Romans 12:16-18. It is wise to attempt to resolve disagreements and conflicts early rather than let them go and grow unimpeded. Second, is to always pray about everything, Philippians 4:6. Paul reminds us to take everything to God including our struggles and disagreements. Jesus also commands us to pray for our enemies. While our conflicts are usually not with complete enemies, the concept is the same. 

This last key is especially important when we are in positions of leadership. We must pray for wisdom and patience to know how to deal with conflict in a Godly manner because others are watching. In positions of leadership we should always demonstrate God’s principles. We must be mindful not to misrepresent God in our leadership. Jesus did not leave us on our own to figure the best way to solve conflict. He left us a model, keys, and steps by which we can handle our disagreements so they would not hamper the work of His kingdom!


1 Maxwell, John C. "Conflict Resolution: Jesus Taught How To Manage Conflict."The Maxwell Leadership Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: Tomas Nelson, 2002. 1176. Print.

Written By David F. Garner

Photo Credit: Skeeze