Conflict between
what I want and
what I need.
From a Latin word that means “to
strike together.”
“A difference in opinion or purpose that
frustrates someone’s goals or desires.”
– Ken Sande, The Peacemaker
“What causes fights and quarrels among
you? Don’t they come from your desires that
battle within you? You want something but
you don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you
cannot have what you want. You quarrel
and fight. You do not have, because you do
not ask God. When you ask, you do not
receive, because you ask with wrong
motives, that you may spend what you get
on your pleasures.” – James 4:1-3 (NIV)
Christ followers are to respond to
conflict in a way that is very
different than the world responds.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they will be called sons of God.”
– Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
A Difficult Person is (from the
view of the recipient) one
who regularly, chronically,
almost predictably opposes
me in a selfish, dysfunctional
way that is hurtful or
destructive to me.
The result: In the Southern Baptist
Churches the average ministry is 18
months, with most ministers leaving their
posts because of fewer than seven people
in the congregation.
Question #1: Was Jesus a difficult
person to anyone?
Question #2: Am I a difficult person?
• Who in my life right now finds me difficult
and why?
• What are my own “hot buttons?”
• Where do I excuse myself rather than
• How do I, as a church leader, easily
become difficult?
The Gift of Difficult People:
1. God always has a bigger agenda
in mind when we encounter the
difficult people in our lives. He
uses them to expose our need for
more of His grace. He also uses
them to test our maturity. Do we
react or do we respond?
The Gift of Difficult People:
2. When confronted with your difficult
person, ask yourself:
a. Am I reaping something I have
previously sown?
b. Is God using the situation to do a
deeper work in me or others?
c. Is this an attack of Satan?
The Gift of Difficult People:
3. We are not responsible for “success”
in dealing with difficult people
(whatever that might be) but we are
responsible for our own Christ-like
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
1.Unrealistic Expectations
(bringing in old history, attitudes, etc.
“Well, the last minister, he…”)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
2. Different Personality Types
Causes of Difficult
3. Seasons of
marriage, birth of
a child, death in
family, loss of
employment, etc.)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
4. Non-Negotiated Changes in
(I don’t have your attention anymore…
- this often happens as a church grows,
or as older church members who are
leaving leadership positions still want to
be a vital part of the ministry of the
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
5. Cultural / Communication Barriers
(deaf ministry, special needs ministry,
ministry with people entering the
community from other cultures)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
6. People in the Wrong Position
(leaders and volunteers operating in a
place outside of their giftedness)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
7. Change is Suspect
(we bring bias and history to every
situation – change in service schedule,
change in music, change in who serves
communion – your motivation for
change will be questioned –
communication is key)
Causes of Difficult
8. Inflexibility /
(stems from a fear
of change or
anything new –
“we’ve never done
it that way before)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
9. Doctrinal
(typically not a true doctrinal issue, but a
smoke screen to cover true issues, BUT –
just because they are difficult doesn’t mean
they are wrong!)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
10. Transference / Displacement
(mistrust of authority from either family
setting or past church experience on
current church)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
11. People Wanting to Vent
(this is not a Biblical model, it is a false
therapy technique and will lead to the death
of a church – as David did, we should vent
to God)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
12. Immaturity
(we don’t know proper boundaries or
how to relate to each other)
Causes of Difficult Behavior:
13. and Final: Clinical Depression or
other Illness
(recent studies show that 30% of U.S.
population could be diagnosed as
clinically depressed and 20% have a
substance addiction)
Biblical Principles in Resolving Church Conflict:
Matthew 18:15-18 is often used when talking about
conflict, but it is a much more powerful passage if taken
in the context of the entire chapter dealing with
responsibility –
I. vs. 1-9 – The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven –
responsibility for sins
II. vs. 10-14 – The Parable of the Lost Sheep –
responsibility of the shepherd (Isaiah 40:11)
III.vs. 15-20 – A Brother Who Sins Against You –
responsibility of the one who hears of the sin
IV. vs. 21-35 – The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant –
responsibility to return mercy as it is given
Principle #1: When the Holy Spirit
points out and reminds you there is an
offense between you and another, you
must go to do all that you Biblically can
to be reconciled to that person.
(Matthew 5:23-24; 2 Corinthians 2:111; 2 Corinthians 7:8-13)
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice
at the altar in the Temple and you
suddenly remember that someone
has something against you, leave
your sacrifice there at the altar. Go
and be reconciled to that person.
Then come and offer your sacrifice
to God.” - Matthew 5:23-24
Principle #2: When
error or sin is
perceived, it is a
Christians’ responsibility
of love to act. God
commands it!
(Matthew 18:15; Luke
17:3; Galatians 6:1; 1
Timothy 5:19-20)
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and
point out the offense. If the other person listens and
confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you
are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and
go back again, so that everything you say may be
confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still
refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if
he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that
person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. “I tell you
the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden
in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be
permitted in heaven. “I also tell you this: If two of you
agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my
Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or
three gather together as my followers, I am there among
them.” - Matthew 18:15-20
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer
is overcome by some sin, you who are godly
should gently and humbly help that person
back onto the right path. And be careful not
to fall into the same temptation yourself.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way
obey the law of Christ.” - Galatians 6:1-2
Principle #3: When a believer knows
of a Christian’s errors, sins, even if it’s
a personal offense, it’s the
responsibility of the one who knows
and has been unsuccessful in
accomplishing repentance and
reconciliation, to take two or three
witnesses and confront the erring
Christian a second time.
(Matthew 18:16)
Principle #4: When
repentance and
reconciliation are not
achieved at steps #1
and #2 of Matthew 18,
it is the responsibility of
the individual and the
witnesses to tell it to
the church. (Matthew
Principle #5: Jesus promises us that
where there are at least two together
for Him and His purposes, that He will
be there to help with the process and
the decisions. In effect, helping those
involved find His answers in a process
designed to restore Christian
Rules to Help
Remedy Church
1. Pray about it
Rules to Help Remedy Church Conflict:
2. Face it, Address it
(difficult people, like conflict, just don’t
fade away – they are like the elephant
in the room that nobody wants to
Rules to Help Remedy Church Conflict:
3. Be Kind and Be Firm
“Instead, we will speak the truth in
love, growing in every way more and
more like Christ, who is the head of his
body, the church.” – Ephesians 4:15
Rules to Help Remedy Church Conflict:
4. Maintain confidentiality and keep
your mouth shut unless it is
helpful. Build trust.
(Gossip = The Church Killer)
Rules to Help Remedy Church Conflict:
5. Ask the Right Questions –
• Do I really understand the problem?
• What procedures are in place to handle this?
• What are the deeper issues underlying this
• Who else “needs” to be involved?
Rules to Help Remedy Church Conflict:
6. Train the church in how to handle
Rules to Help
Remedy Church
7. The Problems and
the Difficult People
will Never End!
Three questions for prayer, thought:
• Do I take 100% responsibility for my part in
• Do I have the best interest of the Church, the
Bride of Christ, in mind when I enter into church
• Am I in daily prayer for the church and both
church and interpersonal conflicts?
• Questions?