Conflict can cause anger, hurt, confusion, fear, and damaged relationships with those on our women’s leadership team and other women in the women’s ministry. At the same time, if approached in a God-honoring way, conflict can bring stimulation, healing, resolution to problems, and building of relationships. It can prevent stagnation and bring needed change in ministry and women’s lives. Conflict can’t be completely avoided, but it can be managed and resolved. It can help us grow in our skills and relationships. If the problem causing it is not confronted, the conflict can escalate.
So how does God want us resolve conflict in our personal relationships and within our women’s ministry leadership team?
1. First, do nothing.
Take a break, think it through, and pray about your response. Ask God to help you love and value the other person as His unique creation. If we pray and think before responding, right off the bat we may prevent crucial mistakes in relationship building.
2. Exhibit self-control.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Angry responses do not honor Christ. We are encouraged to respond slowly to conflict rather than acting on impulse, resulting in regret. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.”
3. Stop, think—and pray.
How does God look at this situation? How does He view the other person? He is a God of wisdom and compassion. Seek to exemplify those traits. What does He want to happen in your relationship as you deal with this issue? Could this be a growing experience for all parties involved?
4. Ask, Is the issue worth pressing?
Is it worth your time and effort, or is it of no real consequence? Count the cost. If resolution does not count in the long run, perhaps you should overlook it and go to more important issues.
5. Evaluate your own attitudes, strengths, and weaknesses.
Matthew 7:5 admonishes, “First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Is the problem more yours than the other person’s? Prayerfully seek God’s perspective about your role and why you feel as you do about the situation.
6. Follow scriptural principles.
Once you’ve considered the previous elements, seek God’s direction for handling the resolution process. Matthew 18:15-20 provides direction for approaching someone we feel has instigated the problem. Face-to-face confrontation is not easy. Share feelings and viewpoints honestly and in love. Listen carefully and acknowledge each other’s feelings and opinions. Remember: attack the problem, not the person. Rather than addressing old issues, focus on the current issue and ways to resolve the problem. Praying together is a positive way to initiate resolution.
7. Ask questions for clarification.
State the problem, assimilate facts, and clearly define issues. Is it miscommunication or incorrect information? Who else or what other factors are involved? Complete research before meeting.
8. Discover together things on which you do agree.
Compile a list. Then evaluate the big picture—how does this situation affect the ministry? The church? Brainstorm possible solutions that will result in mutual benefits.
9. Take some time apart.
Think through the possible solutions and pray separately. Come back together to determine actions to take. Be willing to admit individual mistakes and failures that might have contributed to the problem. Ask for and give forgiveness where necessary. What if this approach doesn’t work? If anger erupts, language is inappropriate, the person is unreasonable, or she won’t listen, you may need to take a different approach. Matthew 18:16 provides direction. Invite mediators to hear the issue and help to make decisions.
At times you may have to agree to disagree. You can change only yourself. You are not responsible for another’s response—only yours. Honor God and uphold truth when you respond. For those who choose to be consistently disagreeable, you may be forced to say you are truly sorry they feel that way—then waste no more time trying to fix what they do not want to fix. Humor is also a good divergent in dealing with disagreeable people. It has a way of cutting the tension!
This article is excerpted from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams.