Dealing with Conflict

Addressing and resolving conflict is rarely listed as someone’s favourite activity. Most people would put it up there with say, dentist appointments, tax time, or spring cleaning. According to my personality assessments, I am the kind of person that longs for harmony. Picture it: a campfire on the beach, someone strumming their guitar, and the soft strain of voices singing, “Dust in the Wind.” Joking aside, I’m not crazy about conflict. But I also understand and accept that conflict is a normal part of life. In the last couple of months, our team at New Direction and at my church where I’m an elder, have been looking at different conflict resolution styles and process.

An oft-cited text in Matthew 18 reminds us to not try to sweep things under the rug. I particularly like the Message version:

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”

I had a conflict. A brother in Christ had hurt me. And I knew I needed to be honest and say so.

In an article for Charisma found here, Alan Chambers, President of Exodus, had referred to an informal conversation over lunch that he and I had many months earlier. Though he didn’t identify me by name, people who are familiar with this area of ministry would have likely identified me as the unnamed Canadian in the piece. In fact, I received a number of emails from folks who wanted to be sure I’d seen the article because they were concerned for how it reflected on me.

I had a lot of unanswered questions after I read the article and wanted to take some time to pray and reflect before communicating with Alan. Part of me wanted to just “let it go.” But I also knew that if I did not have some resolution about some of my questions it would seriously hinder any potential