The new leader deals with conflict and understands its productivity. Gil Rendle said the old model of church prized keeping the people happy and the clergy satisfied. Conflict was seen as a sign that the people weren’t happy, and clergy dissatisfaction surely followed. The church was a hoped for haven of peace in a strife torn world. This model brought us to where we are today. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament shows that deep, troublesome conflict was a prominent feature of the early church and before them, within the fellowship of the disciples. Conflict, in fact, is a catalyst for creativity, and many business leaders today will mine conflict as a way of keeping their organizations on their toes and always looking ahead. We needn’t be afraid of conflict; the early church weathered it and so can we.
It’s how we handle conflict that is the key. The new leader keeps the focus on Christ and our purpose, not on ancillary issues. Conflict that sinks to character assassination, that isolates or condemns the ‘losing side’, that has as its resolution a goal not in keeping with the gospel (think color of the new carpet, getting rid of the pastor, what kind of music will be used in worship), this kind of conflict will arise, but must be named for what it is: destructive to the cause of Christ. Constructive conflict follows guidelines so that people can be heard, makes decisions after prayer and study, and the leadership supports the decisions made so the body as a whole can move forward. Handling conflict means saving it for the things that really matter.