Conflict… A Chance To Glorify God
From My Notes by Pastor Ron Campbell
When you lead a small group, sooner or later you will have to deal with conflict in your group. Conflict is a consequence of us coming together and really sharing life.
Why is that? Because we are bringing together people from different backgrounds and expecting them to agree on every issue.
It has been my experience, the biggest mistake in dealing with conflict that small-group leaders make is ignoring it and hoping it will just go away. It won’t go away by ignoring it and often it will create division within the group.
Simply put, when conflict happens in your small group, it needs to be dealt with within your small group.
The truth is, conflict is a chance to Glorify God.
I wrote the following after much prayer and meditation when I recently found myself facing conflict in a small group in which I participate. I pray it helps you the next time you find yourself facing conflict.
Conflict… You know the feeling. That heavy feeling in your heart. That unpleasant atmosphere of conflict that everything inside you wants to avoid.
It would be so much easier to talk about nice things, like the weather, how the fishing is or your next hiking trip, than it is to embrace those awkward moments of conflict and actually address the elephant in the room.
We’re quick to believe that if we just avoid the conflict, or minimize it, that it will over time eventually go away. However, experience and wisdom tell us differently. Of course, there are offenses and personal frustrations we can get over, but conflicts of a personal nature don’t go away with avoidance. Instead, they fester and deepen.
Conflict should not surprise us, even as Christians. We shouldn’t be embarrassed that conflicts exist, or that we’re involved. In fact, we should expect conflict in a world that is very complex and fallen, and as humans we are very complicated and fallen.
Believe it or not… Christians often have conflict with each other, even true and faithful Christians. Without question conflicts will come; but how will we handle them?
So, when conflicts do arise, don’t run from them. Don’t neglect to address them head-on. Otherwise, we cut ourselves off from a significant opportunity for grace. God does his deepest work not when things are perfect, not when everything seems right with the world, not in our easy times. God works in us and the light of his grace shines brightest and transforms us most, in the toughest times, the hardest conversations, the most painful relational tensions.
In God’s story, the greatest triumphs didn’t come when his people were fleeing conflict, but when they met it head on, believing that God is in control and would be there in the pain, tension and confusion. We should use this knowledge to empower us to move toward conflict, using the power of the Holy Spirit to look past the imposing awkwardness and difficulty to the promise of joy on the other side.
So, as we consider that hard and scary conversation that needs to happen, to address that elephant in the room… We need prayer for His strength, to acknowledge the weakness in ourselves, and to address this conflict with intentionality and kindness. We can move forward in faith knowing that if tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword cannot separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35), then no matter how intense or intimidating the conflict is, He is always with us.