It's inevitable that in life, and especially in ministry, things will get funky between you and someone else. It will happen in your family, your marriage, your work, your team... pretty much your everything. Where there are relationships, there will be funk. I promise.
Expect it. Anticipate it.
And please.... for the love of all things holy... go directly to the funk and get through it.
Don't go around your boss. Don't go down the chain of command. Don't go to friends. Just go to the person you're in a funk with and deal with it.
Matthew 18:15-17 reads as follows: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
So if we just follow the textual prompts with this teaching of Jesus, then we will follow a very specific order of events when we confront people when there's a funk or sin or whatever it gets labeled:
- Go directly to the one you have a conflict with, and try to work it out personally
- Bring in two or three people who you respect and who are in godly leadership roles to help mediate
- Bring it to a larger group of Christ-followers to work it out. Maybe the elder board or something.
- Then the ugly gets dealt with kinda ugly and people get removed all together to eradicate the funk.
While I pray that you never have to get to step 3 or 4, my experience is that we would avoid about 90% of all of it if we just always started with step 1.
Don’t go to the person’s friends to get clarification first. Don’t text your small group or ask 12 people for advice. If you're in youth ministry, don't ask another teen what they think. Just go directly to that person and ask a good question.
Look for clarity. Strive to understand. Apologize if necessary. Undo misunderstandings. Assume the best. You know... just be sane and stop the gossip train.
If you do that, you might actually be on the road toward God-honoring restoration, too. You definitely will be on an less traveled road to a God-honoring response for sure. And the peace you'll have that you acted according to the voice of the Holy Spirit will be from God.