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How to Focus on Your Calling During Conflict

I walked into the deacon’s meeting expecting to be offered an interim pastor position. Our lead pastor had just resigned, so certainly my exceptional (read “average but free”) preaching skills would be tapped to transition the church into its next season. Instead, I was told a main reason the lead pastor left is because I’m so difficult to work with.


I was furious. First, the departing pastor hadn’t mentioned any difficulties to me. Second, he was transitioning to a much (much) larger church in a much (much) cooler town with, I’m sure, a much (much) larger salary. Third, he’d recently completed his seminary degree. If he weren’t such a puddin’, maybe he would’ve told the truth rather than place all the blame on me!

I felt I had two options: either keep my mouth shut like a sheep led to slaughter, or air my grievances like a table-turning prophet. Guess which I chose? I passionately (i.e., angrily) told the deacons exactly what I thought, then stormed out of the room and slammed the door.

Later, when I shared the encounter (i.e., bragged) with a pastor-buddy, he got quiet and then asked a few questions I wasn’t expecting,

  • “While much of what you said was true, do you think that’s how Jesus wanted you to handle that situation?”
  • “Could this conflict offer some lessons for you?”
  • “How can you continue loving your former pastor and current deacons while walking through this?”
  • “What will you do if they fire you this weekend?”

I know, right? What a jerk!

After settling down, forgiving my buddy, and eventually praying about his advice, I knew he was right—and not just about this conflict. [tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]The more I prayed, the more I realized that creating or allowing tension is one of Jesus’ favorite strategies for accelerating Spirit-led change in people.[/tweet_box]

After more than 20 years of vocational ministry, I’ve had my share of conflict. During tension-filled situations, these three reminders help me stay focused on Jesus’ calling and my response:

  1. Jesus’ calling to live his way doesn’t stop during times of conflict.
  2. Jesus’ calling to love his way doesn’t stop when someone wrongs me—or simply does something I don’t like.
  3. Jesus’ calling to deepen my trust in him might be more about me growing amid conflict rather than in spite of it.

Conflict is inevitable. The next time you’re tempted to respond angrily (i.e., body-slam your deacons), how can you make space for Jesus to remind you of your calling? What tips can you share?

3 thoughts on “How to Focus on Your Calling During Conflict

  1. Thank you for this! I’m currently serving in my 16th year at same church and going through some craziness right now. God has used this to bless me today….thanks again!

    • Tim and Tasha Levert

      Hey Rachel. Long term commitment to one place is a key ingredient to healthy youth ministry. And it shows you’re a rockstar 🙂

      Much respect for your faithfulness. Thanks for the kind words.

      Tim and Tasha

  2. Thank you for this article. I have been in Youth Ministry/Christian Education for over 25 years (I started out as an aid at the age of 15, and found my passion for Christ in Education). My husband and I are at a church right now, that they have 20 year old running the youth ministry program, and he is more of a teenager, then a leader. We had a concern 2 years ago when they hired him at the age of 18, and we prayed and I have offered help with anything he might need (no one ever accepted our offer to help). So, two months ago we took our concerns to our assigned deacon, and addressed our concern for the youth ministry in the church. For these past two months, after asking about our concerns, we have been treated very differently in the church by the deacons. I decided last Sunday to talk to the Pastor, again, about our concern of the youth ministry that this young man was hired to do, and the result was that I forwarded the copy of the Youth Director job description to the pastor, and I clearly addressed our concerns. Your article above has made me think and reread what I wrote to the pastor about the paid position of the youth director, and I did write the e-mail with very concise, clear, no questions needed, wording. With the e-mail being so straightforward, the deacons called a special meeting with my husband and I. We both knew that standing up for youth ministry, and the teaching of the Word of God, was not going to be easy, and we knew that being honest, and straightforward would have consequences. But, through this meeting last night, the comments a deacon made toward my character, questioning my dedication to the church, (during the time that I was actually dealing with the death of my sister, and helping with another churches youth programs), it turned out that the deacon had been holding a grudge towards us, because we weren’t there for their VBS for the last year! I was baffled at the heartless comments from this deacon. However, God brings us to situations in different ways. Conflict can help us grow in our journey with Christ. Had we not pushed the concern we had, we would not have found the true feelings of the Deacons, and we would have never known the true desire of the leaders of the church, and that no one questions the decisions made. Conflict, while staying faithful, is not ever easy, but God will always be with us, when we keep our focus on him! Thank you again for this article!

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How to Focus on Your Calling During C...

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