Lesson 9

CHAPTER NINE

CONFLICTS AND DISCIPLINE

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

C Write the Key Verses from memory.

C Identify the true reason for all conflicts.

C Summarize ways to prevent conflict.

C Summarize guidelines for dealing with conflict.

C Identify reasons why discipline is necessary.

C Summarize Scriptural principles of discipline.

KEY VERSES:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

INTRODUCTION

In Chapter Seven you studied about tasks of leaders. Two important tasks of every leader are providing discipline and solving conflicts. Whenever you work with and minister to people these tasks are necessary. Discipline is correction of those who are wrong. A
conflict is a fight or quarrel . A good leader must provide correction and be able to solve
problems between his followers.

DISAGREEING WITHOUT CONFLICT

People can disagree without having conflict, but conflict often results from

disagreements. It is not differences of opinion that hurt and destroy, but the failure to love when we have them .

Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over Mark in Acts 15:36-41. This disagreement did not lead to hostility and hatred. The problem was solved by forming a second
evangelistic team. This solution actually advanced the spread of the Gospel. Paul and Barnabas did not get angry, stop speaking , and have nothing more to do with one another .

Neither one dropped out of Christian service because "someone had hurt them.” They both continued on to serve the Lord.

When people are fighting each other, they are not fighting Satan . God wants leaders to deal with conflict and discipline effectively so the work of His Kingdom can proceed.

THE ROLE OF GOD’S WORD

God’s Word has an important role in solving discipline problems and conflicts:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

When we discipline and solve conflicts on the basis of God’s Word, people are perfected and equipped for the work of the ministry. God’s Word is effective for discipline,
reproof, and correction.

A BIBLICAL PATTERN

Any time a church, organization, or work of God is launched, it goes through certain

stages of development. Here is an example of these stages. Read the following chapters in your Bible:

Acts l God chose certain men.

Acts 2 He gave these men a ministry.

Acts 3 There was great multiplication.

Acts 4 A great movement was born (the Church).

Acts 5-6 Discipline and conflict arose.

In Acts l-4 a great work of God is birthed, then in Acts 5:1-11, a discipline problem

arises . Peter does not ignore it , but confronts and deals with it. In Acts 5:12-42, conflict
from without the Church arises. The disciples stand in the face of opposition and boldly
declare:

We ought to obey God rather than men…And daily, in the temple

and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:29 and 42)

In Acts 6:1, conflict from within the church arises. There is a dispute over the

distribution of supplies to widows. Again, the disciples immediately solve the conflict.

They could have just silenced the complaints by saying, "If you were spiritual you would not be complaining .”

They also could have said, "Do not challenge the leadership God has appointed. Submit

or split !" Instead , they had the attitude of a good leader. They said, "We hear you have a problem . Let us see if together , with God’s help, we can solve it ." (See Acts 6 :2-7 .)

Anytime a ministry or work of God is launched , it will experience this same pattern .

There will be discipline problems and conflicts from without and within . Satan wants to destroy the work of the ministry.

You must also remember that one who is being led by the Spirit will usually come into conflict with others who are being led (at least for a time) by the flesh. (See the conflicts of Jesus in the "For Further Study" section of this lesson.)

A good leader does not ignore such difficult situations. He does not call people

"unspiritual" for bringing problems to his attention. He immediately deals with issues of discipline and conflict.

THE TRUE REASON FOR CONFLICTS

The Bible reveals the true reason behind conflicts between believers and in the Church and Christian ministries:

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

For where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:14-16)

From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? (James 4:1.)

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (I Corinthians 3:3)

Conflicts arise because of spiritually immature and carnal Christians motivated by Satan, the flesh , and pride.

PREVENTING CONFLICT

The best way to handle conflict is to prevent it before it occurs . Here are some ways to prevent conflict:

1. Raise up spiritually mature believers (James 3 :14-16; 4:1; I Corinthians 3:3).

2. Keep people well informed. Confusion and lack of information create problems.

Build strong bridges of communication between those involved with you in the

work of the ministry . Good leaders in the Bible (like Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, etc.) were good communicators.

3. Whenever you are doing a work for God, there will always be problems. Let

people know you expect problems, that you are not surprised when they arise, and that you know you will be able to solve them through the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. Think ahead. By careful planning you can deal with many problems before they

become conflicts.

5. Build strong relationships. Say only good about others, and train those who work

with you in ministry to speak well of others.

6. Give sincere appreciation and credit to those who work with you in ministry.

7. If you make a mistake, be big enough to admit and correct it.

8. Be clear in your purpose and plans of ministry. If everyone knows what you are

doing and why , there is less opportunity for misunderstanding and conflict.

9. When it is necessary to set rules, establish clear rules and communicate them

immediately to others.

10. Be available to your co-workers so you will be aware of problems when they arise.
Without your attention, simple problems can turn into big conflicts.

11. Operate the ministry on Biblical principles, the greatest of which is love.

DEALING WITH CONFLICT

When a problem or conflict does arise, follow these guidelines:

1. Make yourself available to deal with it. You cannot handle problems if you are

never around.

2. Pray for wisdom to deal with the problem .

3. Determine the real problem. The conflict is not the real problem. What caused

the conflict is the problem. To determine the problem you must ask questions,

observe, and continue to pray for revelation. Listen to all sides of the problem and to all people involved . Do not act without a clear understanding of all the facts.
Always keep in mind the real source of problems (James 3:1 4-16 ; 4:1; I
Corinthians 3:3).

4. Let people who are directly affected by the problem suggest solutions. Be willing
to listen to all suggestions. Pray together about a solution. In serious conflicts,
fasting is also recommended.

5. If the conflict is a personal problem between two people, bring them together

following the principles of Matthew 18:15-17.

6. Deal with conflicts with a proper attitude. Be forgiving, seeking to restore rather
than sever relationships. Be loving. Do not threaten or become angry. Do not
allow people to yell or say bad things about each other.

Use tact. Tact is the ability to deal with difficult situations with wisdom and love without offending people. It involves being sensitive to others, being
understanding, and using words that restore and heal rather than divide and wound.
Be flexible. Do not be selfishly set on having your own way. Be open to different ideas and ways of solving problems.

7. Deal with one conflict or problem at a time. Do not confuse the issue by

discussing other related problems.

8. When you have a clear understanding of the problem causing the conflict, act
immediately to correct it. Remember that a solution should always advance the
Kingdom of God. Turn conflicts into cooperation, as in the example of Paul and
Barnabas.

9. Explain why you are handling the conflict the way you are. For example, in the
church conflict described in Acts 15 , the leaders explained their decision in detail
in writing to those involved.

10. Thank God for the problem and what you learned from the experience. When you
give thanks in "everything,” it releases the divine energy and power of God to
work on your behalf.

REASONS FOR DISCIPLINE

It is the nature of sin to rebel against authority . This is what caused the original sin of Lucifer (the Devil) and of man (Adam and Eve). Because of this basic sin nature, you will sometimes have to lead those who may not want to be led. You will have followers who fall into rebellion, sin , and evidence spiritual carnality and immaturity.

The pastor or spiritual leader has the authority for discipline within a Church or ministry because he has the responsibility for the spiritual welfare of followers:

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they

watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

The leader must be willing to handle discipline problems immediately when they occur. To allow spiritual failure or sin to go unchallenged can be fatal to any ministry. Here are some Scriptural reasons for discipline:

1. To restore a person who is denying the Word of God or who has given reason for

offense: Galatians 6:1; Matthew 6:14-15

2. To correct sin: I Corinthians 8:9

3. To protect the Christian testimony of the Church: I Timothy 3:7

4. To encourage members to remain faithful in their witness and not to become

careless: I Corinthians 5:6-7

PRINCIPLES OF DISCIPLINE

Here are some guidelines for discipline:

1. Go first to the erring brother and solve the matter individually and personally if

possible: Luke 17:3; Matthew 18:15-17.

2. If the erring believer will not listen to you and repent, go again with witnesses:

Matthew 18: 15- 17.

3. If he still refuses to hear you , take the matter before the entire Church: Matthew

18:15-17

4. Discipline should be done by leaders with a proper spirit. See Matthew 7:1-5;
Romans 15:1-2 ; II Corinthians 2:6-8 , and Galatians 6 :1-4. Spiritually mature

believers are to first judge themselves and then deal with offenders with a spirit of meekness, love, and helpfulness.

5. Correction should be done with the purpose of restoring the offender who has been

taken captive by Satan: II Timothy 2:24-26.

6. If correction is refused , discipline may include exclusion from the fellowship. One
of the greatest gifts God has given believers is fellowship with others believers.
One of the most severe punishments is withholding such fellowship. See Matthew
18:15-17; I Corinthians 5; II Thessalonians 3:14; II John 7-11; and III John 9-11.

7. Opportunity should be given for the erring brother to respond. His attitude should
affect the discipline and his future in ministry. If his attitude is good and he
repents, the leader can restore him to fellowship and ministry. If the offense is
serious, the offender may need to be removed from active ministry until he sets his
own life and home in order. If he is rebellious and does not repent, he must be
removed from leadership positions, and possibly, the church fellowship.

8. Private problems and public sins should be handled differently. See Matthew

18:15-17; I Corinthians 5; Galatians 2:1-14; I Timothy 5:20. In the passage from Matthew it seems the problem was between private individuals. It was to be dealt with by enlisting the aid of other believers and, if the offender would not listen, by excluding him from fellowship. In the other passages, the problems were matters of public record so they had to be dealt with publicly.

9. Exercise discipline only on the basis of factual knowledge. "Hearsay" evidence is
not sufficient. There must also be two or three witnesses. See Matthew 18:1 5-18 ; I
Corinthians 5:1 and I Timothy 5:1,9.

A RULE TO REMEMBER

A good rule to remember when you must discipline others is…

Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. (Matthew 7:12) Revised Standard Version

Always ask yourself:

1. "What does God’s Word say about this?"

2. "How would Jesus handle this?"

3. "How would I want to be treated in this situation if our positions were reversed
and I was him and he was me?"