One of the first life lessons that we learn is that conflict is inevitable.  We are a fallen people and, because of that, conflict is a part of our life.  Whether big or small, conflict is able to make its way into every one of our relationships.  Unfortunately, our ministry relationships are not excluded from that reality. Whether it is with a parent, a volunteer, another department of the church, or the head pastor, we WILL eventually have conflict.

As believers, we are called to confront and resolve our conflict. That being said, if we don’t approach reconciliation appropriately, conflict can be incredibly destructive.

Today my friend (who works at the same church as me) and I were debriefing a confrontation he had that afternoon.  He was frustrated with a miscommunication he had with a member of another department, so he talked with them about it. Long story short, it did not go well.  Their relationship took a huge blow and both walked away more frustrated than they were before.

Thankfully, they are in the process of repairing their relationship.  But it is important that our confrontations don’t produce similar outcomes. If you are deciding whether or not you should confront someone about a conflict, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Did I pray about it? At the first sign of conflict, pray. Pray for guidance and discernment as your navigate your next step.  Search your heart to find out what you are truly upset about.  Say someone isn’t responding to your e-mails or phone calls, are you upset at their laziness or are you upset that they aren’t valuing your time?  Finding out your true feelings about your issue will help you effectively communicate your frustration.

Is it worth it?  Finding out your true feelings will also help you pick your battles.  Frequently communicating small issues is discouraging to others and has the potential to alienate you.  Not communicating important problems can severally damage your ministry and even your church as a whole.

Am I considering the entirety?  Take some time to think outside yourself (outside student ministry), and consider the “big picture”.  Remember that you and your ministry are only small pieces of a large puzzle. Are you looking out for our own interests, or the interest of the Church?

What are some things that you consider before you approach a confrontation?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.