Argument-confrontationA few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead a breakout session at Lifeway’s Kids Ministry Conference 2012 titled "The Non-Confrontationalist’s Guide to Confrontation."

I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, primarily because no matter the context, no matter the size, no matter the organizational structure … leading through conflict is one of the most important things we do.

In this session, I unpacked three reasons why you should choose to lean into conflict rather than step back from it. And I shared four steps I use to lead through conflict. I believe everyone can be a better leader by applying these simple steps.

Let’s start with the reasons why you would choose to lean into conflict. First up: the value of conflict. 

For years I viewed conflict as something God used to make me a better leader. So every time I opted to step back or shy away from addressing a quarrel between team members or poor communication between a parent and volunteer, I would internally berate myself for my lack of courage. Then one day God lovingly convicted me. These conflicts weren’t all about me! But I was fighting hard to make them so.

“Could it be," He so gently said to me, "that this conflict has more to do with them and a work I desire to complete in them? You can join Me in My work or not. But I am faithful to complete it and will use whomever is willing.”  

Ouch! That one hurt. When I realized that my self-centeredness and tendency toward self-preservation was an active detriment to those around me, it was incredibly convicting. I viewed conflict through the wrong lens, and that had to change.

Now the value of conflict all comes down to how I view those around me. I begin with the belief that the people on my team, the volunteers in my ministry and the parents I serve simply want to be better … better team members, better parents, better volunteers, better Christ-followers, better (fill in the blank). When I believe that (ultimately) the person in question wants to improve, then I can leverage this conflict to help make them better.

Why? Because Scripture is clear:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)

“… that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” (Phil. 1:6)

For this reason alone, conflict holds great value in our life—because it sharpens us and also those around us. When we view conflict through this lens, then we are more willing to lean into it. God has a way of using circumstances to refine and strengthen our faith. He is faithful this way.

Action Step: Invest five minutes and take inventory of the conflict you currently have in your life. Assuming that all parties involved (ultimately) want to be better, list positive outcomes that can result from addressing the conflict rather than ignoring it.

Check back for part 2 of this series for more on why you would choose to lean into conflict.

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children’s ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tenn. For the original article, visit

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • Don't bring your sermons in for a crash landing.

    4 Terrible Ways to Close a Sermon

    People need an opportunity to respond to the Word of God.

  • Pastors and ministry leaders should be bold in preaching against the murder of unborn babies.

    Kingdom Influence: A Challenge to Young Pastors and Leaders

    Jentezen Franklin urges ministry leaders to be strong and courageous in dealing with these issues ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders