Resolving Conflict among Church Leaders, Part 2

I began this topic last week. Today, let me give you one principle that relates to this topic.

angry manPrinciple 1: Don’t Tolerate Angry Church Leaders

Common media portrayal:  Angry people are the ones who get things done.  Patient people are dithering fools, totally ineffective. Angry people are to be admired, considered to be people of strong character. We have TV & Radio Talk Shows full of blathering rage, the daily “rant.”  (Advice:  don’t tune in to the ones who are full of anger.)

Psychologists:  Describe this anger as “hostility”.  Many years ago, Christian psychologist Clyde Narramore put it this way:

The hostile individual is difficult to get along with.  If he does not get his way or is engaged in severe competition, he becomes very unpleasant.  He frequently has marriage and family difficulties.  He may argue with his wife constantly and scold and punish his children.  In church and other social situations the hostile person often disrupts the plan of activities.  He becomes engaged in personality conflicts with group leaders and seeks to have his views become the center of attention.

Does this sound like anyone you know? Here is a biblical perspective:

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

Uncontrolled Anger marks you as a fool in the eyes of those around you. Fools don’t make good church leaders. Two further observations help define this issue:

  1. The opposite of anger is not passivity, it is patience.
  2. Two angry persons accelerate the situation and this leads to disaster. This is why anger is often associated with “fire” in the Bible

Here is the great danger: if you have an angry church leader, the tendency is for others to avoid conflict and allow this person to get her or her way on almost everything. This is rarely in the best interests of the church. A church board can be controlled by an angry board member whom no one else wants to challenge. Two angry members at odds will bring the board to stalemate. We don’t need angry church leaders, whether they be elders, ministers, pastors, or other persons of influence. Such folks need to be removed from leadership until the anger issue can be dealt with (or never be allowed to be leaders in the first place). This is a place where prevention is the best strategy. If you know a person has anger issues (and you will), don’t let them be an elder. Don’t hire them to be a minister. Angry people are conflicts waiting to happen, and this is not in the best interests of any church.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College

One thought on “Resolving Conflict among Church Leaders, Part 2

  1. This is very helpful stuff Dr. Krause. We have a great leadership team in place, at present, and have very little if any conflict. However, when we’re looking for church leaders (and I mean the church in general as well as MLCC, where I work) we tend to look at moral character, and discipline, and even long-term faithfulness to Christ, but we may not stop and think specifically… “does this person have an anger problem?” I know I have avoided certain individuals in the past, sort of intuitively, knowing that they are hard to work with… but keeping this particular issue very openly on the table during discussion would help avoid getting church leaders in place that are hard to deal with, have little desire for unity and truly seeking God’s will over their own (which I’ve found they usually can’t separate), and who are nearly impossible to remove from leadership in any way besides a blow-up that results in significant collateral damage. Thanks! JJR

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