Very few people enjoy conflict. Most of us avoid it unless we absolutely have to face it. When our backs are against the wall, then we’ll fight.
This is one of the Mistakes Leaders Make. We are not exempt from this fear of conflict. This is not call to become contentious. Paul tells Timothy to silence contentious people. If they won’t abide by that, they are to be put out of the church.
Another mistake would be making everything a conflict. Who’d want to go to THAT church?!
But I’ve seen people not engage in constructive conflict “out of love.” I’ve had this happen. A quick conversation would have resolved something. But they refused to talk to me, because they loved me and thought I’d change without anyone’s help. As a result, their frustration grew into destructive conflict. Yeah, that is so much better.
“We are not to be so loving that we don’t speak the truth, or so truthful that we don’t speak with love; there is a fine balance between the two that is essential to all human relationships, especially among church staff and in a leadership role.”
Leaders need to sort through what they are willing to fight for or about. Know the hill you are willing to die one (you can’t die on every hill). This has to do with the severity of the issue.
“… courageous leadership- the willingness to make the tough decisions; the courage to do the right thing, which may not always be the popular thing; and the courage not to plan around the person or the issue.”
It takes courage, and wisdom. There are times to bear with one another. There are times to sit down and talk about the problem. We tend to go to extremes. Both extremes lead us into ineffective leadership and hurt a congregation. Just in different ways.
“I cannot imagine anything more devastating to effective leadership than the refusal or inability to resolve conflict.”
I’ll toss out my usual biblical caveat from Romans 12- as much as it depends on you. Sometimes you are willing to resolve conflict, but the other person is more content to run away or just stay and sulk passive-aggressively destroying unity. I’ve tried to resolve issues with some people only for them to cancel the meeting and never talk to me again when they discovered I had discovered a secret they wanted to remain hidden. There were bigger issues in life than the one we were hoping to resolve- but they refused to go there.
“Ignoring conflict is unbiblical and shows lack of spiritual leadership and integrity.”
So our best course of action is to study the Scriptures on this issue instead of business theory. Seek God’s grace to address conflict instead of settling for the false peace that God hates and which will eventually blow up in your face.
Redeeming Church Conflicts by Barthel & Edling is a helpful resource.