We have been talking about some of the subjects which may be neglected or ignored in seminary curriculum. There is a great deal of time, for example, spent on "Homiletics,"or the art of preaching.
What? Why would "conflict management" be useful in a church setting? Are not all members of the church "saints in training?" Do they not all embrace love, forgiveness and tolerance? That is certainly the goal, but not always the experience. Sometimes termperaments, prejudices and cranky dispositions get in the way.
Church membership does not guarantee sainthood. The Apostle Paul was painfully aware of this. Two women in his congregation enjoyed working with them. However, they "didn't get along." And so he writes, "I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women..." (Philippians 4:2-3)
With background and personality differences, tastes and temperaments that are at odds, it is little wonder that conflicts in the church arise from time to time. Saints are subject to personality clashes like everyone else. Working one's way through them is the true mark of sainthood.
Wilbur Rees is currently Pastor Emeritus at Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland.
Wilbur calls himself a “survivor.” Having weathered the first two and a half decades of a tumultuous life, he went on to complete his education and serve as pastor in four states. He has written numerous article for religious publications and, in addition to this book, is the author of “Three Dollars Worth of God”. He is now retired and lives with his wife in Washington State.