In a recent column for Rick Warren suggested several ways to deal with conflict. Here are the first three:

“In Nehemiah 5 the Israelites face conflict for the same reason we do today—selfishness. So what can we learn from Nehemiah about handling conflict?

1. Get angry (v. 6). Nehemiah didn’t ignore the problem; he took it seriously. When the unity of your church is challenged, it’s your job to protect the unity of your church. It’s serious business.

In times such as this anger is completely appropriate and right. There is a right kind of anger and a wrong kind of anger. Leadership is knowing the difference. A pastor who doesn’t have enough fire in his belly to get angry about disunity isn’t much of a leader.

2. Think before you speak (v. 7). If you only do step one and ignore step two, you’ll get in lots of trouble. Nehemiah 5:7 says, “I pondered them in my mind.” Nehemiah stopped, got alone with God and thought about what he was going to do. He asked God, “What do You want me to do?”

You should get angry when disunity threatens your church, but you have to think before you act. You can’t just act on that anger.

3. Rebuke the person individually (v. 7). Go directly to the source. You don’t deal with somebody else about it. You don’t talk with five or six different people to get everybody on your side. You don’t say, “I’ve got a prayer request…” and spout it out. You go directly to the person causing the disunity. Nehemiah did that: “I pondered them in my mind then I accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!’” (5:7, NIV).

Nehemiah didn’t make a polite social visit. He was angry, and he did not gloss over the fact that these guys were ripping off other people. He didn’t water it down. He confronted the troublemakers. You and I are called to do that, too, when disunity threatens our church.” (Read about the last two steps.)

Michael Duduit
Follow on Twitter @MichaelDuduit

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