The Church seems to struggle with this as much as any group of people. We draw conclusions based on what people don’t say. Or even what they don’t do.
Yet, Jesus clearly taught us that our impact is directly affected by the unity of our fellowship. We don’t have to agree – but to reach a lost world, we have to have unity.
Whenever these conflicts happen, the mature leader works for resolution as quickly as possible. But, often our responses can make it worse.
Here are four ways you can take a misunderstanding and make it worse:
We’re upset with someone. We’ve heard about what they did or said. The slight they made hurt our feelings and we took it personally. So what do we do?
Pull back. Go silent. And the result is a small problem just gets bigger and bigger.
Okay, we’re too mature to go silent. But, we can do something else almost as hurtful. We get distant. We don’t share what we’re thinking or feeling. Sure, we will communicate, but it’s not real. We establish a perimeter around our feelings and allow distance to creep in between us. Our relationship has changed, and we wait to see if the other person figures it out.
Over time, the distance grows. Pretty soon we are so far apart we don’t even talk anymore.
We have something we really want to say. But, we don’t really pursue resolution. What we really want is to get even or settle the score because of the hurt. We don’t go silent, and we don’t create distance. We just fire off little barbs. In a way, we’re dropping hints something is wrong. We start to use words as weapons, hoping to exact our pound of flesh one pithy statement at a time.
But, this won’t fix what’s broken. And it can even cause more hurt than the original offense ever could.
This is the most subtle one of all. We don’t go silent. We don’t create distance. We don’t even fire one-liners in retaliation. We just don’t care enough to seek restoration. We think, “They’re the one with the problem. I’m fine. If they have an issue, they’ll have to address it.”
The problem with this is that as followers of Christ and leaders of ministry, we must care – because Jesus cares. We don’t have the option of writing anyone off. As He modeled for us, we keep reaching, keep loving, and keep drawing people in. One sentence that should never cross the lips of anyone in ministry talking about the Body of Christ – I don’t care what they think.
If we lead ministry, relationships have to be at the forefront of our minds all the time. We build bridges and blow up walls for the purpose of sharing the Gospel and building disciples. We are the business of equipping the saints. We can’t allow our human nature when it comes to conflict to poison the fellowship.
Time is too short for petty disagreements. Develop the personal disciplines necessary to cultivate healthy relationships with the people you lead.