Conflict Among Church Leaders

Leading is tough.  It’s not for everyone but it seems everyone wants to be a “leader”, and in church it isn’t that difficult to be given a leadership role in some form or fashion.  No one wants conflict, but in order to be a leader you have to embrace it.

The problem I see in church leadership is too much criticism among leaders and terrible processes for addressing and embracing it.  Leaders drift toward isolation to shield themselves from criticism until at best they’re no longer growing and at worst they’re failing miserably.

I believe a better way for church leaders to approach conflict amongst themselves is to think before speaking, and that process of thought might go something like this:

  • Is this thought from God or Satan?  Is this matter I’m concerned about coming from the God of truth or the author of confusion – good or evil?
  • Is my heart about this matter pure?  Am I hoping to truly help the other party or am I really just going to tear them down to gain something that somehow pleases a sinful nature?
  • If roles were reversed would I want this brought to me?  If you were in the other person’s shoes would you want the matter or concern brought to your attention?
  • How should I do this?  Should what you’re about to say or do be private or public.  Too often church leaders are lashing back and forth publicly without any personal interaction.
  • Should I run this by someone else first?  Is there someone I can confide in about this matter to hear from their wisdom before I say or do anything else?

The flip side of being the initiator of conflict is being the recipient.  Leaders drift toward isolation by assuming criticism is a hater just hating rather than something we need to hear.  When someone brings something to our attention we should run it through a thought process that might go something like this:

  • Is this thought from God or Satan?  Is this matter something that could help strengthen my leadership or something that could hinder what I’m trying to do for God?
  • Does the person bringing this concern love Jesus and care about me?  If they do then they will bring the concern to you properly (which is usually privately), but they shouldn’t have to be on the senior staff, board, or one of our “yes” men for us to hear their concern.  Writing off a concern simply because someone doesn’t have a position or status can be a bad reason to ignore a potential problem.
  • Should I run this by someone else who loves Jesus and cares about me?  If we are truly a leader with any amount of influence then we should have at least one other person we can confide in to discuss the concern and get an honest second opinion.

Notice the initiator list is longer than the recipient list.  It would do us all a lot of good to question our initiation more than our participation when conflict arises.

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