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The leader sits at her desk, wringing her hands in anxiety and frustration. A rumor has surfaced that a longtime friend has been saying unkind things about her. At first, she wanted to reject the idea, believing they’d been through too much together for her friend to act as described, but then she remembers their last encounter and the awkwardness she felt, but didn’t understand . . . until now.

Every leader knows such feelings. Word comes of those who are publicly criticizing us or acting in ways that reveal a problem—one we wish would just go away. How do you deal with such moments? How do you address conflict when it grows between you and those you depend on?

Managing conflict effectively is often some of the hardest work for a leader. And sadly, because of that difficulty, many leaders avoid dealing with conflict only to watch it overtake their ministry efforts. Conflict cannot be avoided or ignored if we desire to live healthy and effective lives.

In this unit, we will explore the challenge of managing conflict. We will consider some general issues regarding conflict—why it’s difficult and what causes its intrusion into our efforts. We’ll also consider the common stages of conflict and the goals that can make our efforts to resolve issues worthwhile. Finally, we’ll review steps for managing conflict and some practical ideas for creating an environment that doesn’t allow unhealthy conflict to flourish.



Chapman, Gary, and Thomas, Jennifer MThe Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in all Your               
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Lencioni, Patrick. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.

Maxwell, John. Winning with People: Discover the People Principles that Work for You Every Time. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004. 

Miller, Calvin. The Empowered Leader: 10 Keys to Servant Leadership. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1995.

Sande, Ken. Relational Wisdom 360 at https://rw360.org/

Scazzero, Peter. The Emotionally Healthy Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

Shawhuck, Norman, and Heuser, Roger. Managing the Congregation: Building Effective Systems to Serve People. Nashville,TN: Abingdon Press, 1996.



MIKE CLARENSAU led Maranatha Worship Center, Wichita, Kansas, from an aging congregation of 180 to a vibrant church of over 750, comprised largely of young adults. He is currently the Dean of the College of Bible and Church Ministries at Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

Mike has previously led national leadership roles as director of the National Sunday School Team and Editor in Chief for Radiant Life Curriculum and the Assemblies of God. Mike also served as District Youth and C.E. Director for the AG Kansas ministry network. Mike has authored fourteen books including, From Belonging to Becoming: Learning to Love People Like Jesus Did, Journey to IntegrityThe Sanctity of Life, Give Them What They Want, and is a co-author of We Build People.

Mike received his B. A. in Business Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and M.A. and D.Min. degrees from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, in Springfield, Missouri.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society®.

“Managing Conflict” is published by the National Women’s Department at www.women.ag.org. 2020. Permission to reproduce is limited to personal use or within a teaching setting. All other forms of use are prohibited.