Conflict Resolution and You: A Public Service Announcement

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Tek7 (Legacy)

CGA & ToJ President
All Tribe of Judah members are Christians. All Christians share a common faith, a common Lord, and common principles. While Christians have a great deal in common, they also disagree on a number of things. There are a number of controversial topics being debated in the church today, but I think we can all agree on one thing: we're all still human, and, as such, prone to error.

That's where conflict comes in. People get upset, they get angry, and then they speak out of anger rather than out of love. While anger has its place (anger against sin, anger against demonic forces), we are called to love every person ("our neighbor") as ourselves--including those that we don't like.

The Bible outlines a process for addressing and resolving conflicts. It's found in Matthew 18:15-17:

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
First, we must understand that Paul was writing this in the context of sin in the local church. While this does not necessarily apply to internal conflicts, it does give us a very important principle: When you have a complaint or issue with someone, address that person privately first.

Adapting this process to Tribe of Judah, here's the recommended way to deal with conflict:

  1. When you have a complaint or issue with someone, address that person privately first.
  2. If the two of you are unable to resolve the conflict, request the help of an unbiased third-party and continue to address the situation through a private communication medium, such as e-mail. I recommend contacting the next person in the chain of command. For example: If you were a member, with no staff responsibilities, you would contact a chapter officer. If you were a chapter staff member, you would contact the chapter leader. Also, be sure to give sufficient time for staff members to work through the situation. Most staff members work full-time jobs, go to school, and have families. Many have spouses and children as well.
  3. If you follow the chain of command to the chapter leader and the conflict remains unresolved, contact the Tribe of Judah President. This should be a last resort--not a first step.

Sometimes, people part ways and go on serving the Lord--just in separate places. Consider the story of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-40:
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Paul and Barnabas continued to serve the Lord, though they "parted company." If you can't find a way to work through your issue, then it may be that you need to distance yourself from that person. It's not the ideal solution, but it's often far better than extended conflict that can involve and hurt a larger group of people.

In closing, I'd like to share a note on Matthew 18:17, which reads:
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
This does not give a Christian license to humiliate, attack, or mock a brother or sister in Christ unwilling to repent of sin. It simply means that you should break ties with that person, put some distance between yourself and that person, and pray that the Lord would deal with them. Again, it is not an invitation to point at a sinning Christian and enact personal vengeance on them. Remember that vengeance is the Lord's. We, as Christians, are called to love all people, even those people with whom we would be wise to keep at arm's length.

I pray that this message reaches you in the heart with which it was intended: a heart that passionately desires unity in the church, God's love reflected in all Christians, and glory to God's name.
 
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