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Dealing with conflict is the daily work of the pastor. God has called us as undershepherds of His flock to care for His sheep, and that often means caring for them through conflict, even when we as pastors may be the cause of the conflict. Conflict in the church is why people sometimes leave a church, and the burden of conflict is why pastors often leave the pastorate. And pastors who do not serve alongside a plurality of faithful elders usually succumb to the overwhelming burden of conflict.

Every Christian deals with conflict, and we do whatever we can to avoid it. Conflict is miserable. It is heart-wrenching. It burdens us and can sometimes overwhelm us. Thus, when we find ourselves in the midst of conflict, we need to cast ourselves and all our burdens on the Lord, because He cares for us. One of the ways He cares for us is through the church, even when the conflict we are facing is in the church. God made us for community, and the only way to bring about genuine resolve and reconciliation is through the community of God’s family, following the principles God has set forth in His Word to seek authentic peace. Such peace comes not through compromise but through truth, grace, humility, repentance, and forgiveness. Real peace comes through the vindication of the righteous and through the repentance and restoration of the offender. Nevertheless, in seeking reconciliation we must always seek to take the log out of our own eye long before we address the speck in our brother’s eye.

Although conflict ultimately is a consequence of the fall, it sometimes arises from misunderstandings, assumptions, or poor communication. We must also recognize that sometimes God providentially uses conflict as a way to achieve lasting peace, purity, and unity in the church, in our families, and in our relationships. Even in His earthly ministry, Jesus brought conflict in order to purify His church and to bring about salvation and peace for His chosen people (Matt. 10:34; John 2:13–22). Throughout the history of the church, there have been numerous conflicts that God has sovereignly used so that His truth might be rediscovered in His Word, His gospel proclaimed, and His elect set free from the ultimate conflict that we as sinners have with Him, our righteous and just God. Thanks be to God, He works through conflict to reconcile us to Him so that we might stand justified by faith alone before His throne of judgment.

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