Some of the pastors were serving on the board of directors of the ministry in which I served. Even though I felt I had done nothing wrong, some of them were convinced that my particular views on the charismatic movement were dangerous. To me, the way they assessed the situation was inconsistent, unfair and mean, but my youthful arrogance probably came through too, even though I think it was likely more personal insecurity than arrogance. Anyway, I was all of 25 years old at the time. The fence was still wet where my diapers were hanging.
In time, this conflict finally led to a vote of confidence on my ministry by the board of directors. I won the vote, but things were never the same after that. The two sides were cordial thereafter but we were neither conciliatory in word or deed. And I can assure you that we never went on a vacation together! In time, the complexion of the board changed and we moved on to other issues.
Since those painful days early in my ministry I have had plenty of conflict with people in the church and well, in life, too. Now I spend some of my time actually helping pastors and churches work through their conflicts. Some conflict resolution is handled well; some is handled very poorly. (One pastor actually told me not long ago that he wants to serve were there isn’t much conflict. My response after laughing out loud, “Well buddy, let me know how that works out for you!”)
I think, at least I hope, I generally have tried to live at peace with all people, as far as it depended on me. But you know what I have learned over the years more than anything else? When Christians fight over, well, just about any and everything — And they do! — the number one factor that often leads to either genuine reconciliation or to destroyed relationships is this: “Was anyone teachable?”
Was someone, anyone, even one person, willing to admit to being wrong?
I some times ask myself, and ask those I work with to ask themselves: “Is my view of Scripture here deficient?” “Is it possible the other person’s criticism is valid?” “Does the other person perhaps have a better solution than I have?”
Here’s an example from Jesus’ life. This is what it looked like one time when Jesus encountered what I would call, well, some pretty unteachable, recalcitrant folks:
Luke 6:6-11… [Emphasis in RED is mine.]