By Katie Pearson
“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:3–5
Conflict is expected in leadership settings. In fact, conflict offers us an excellent opportunity to influence others for Christ. Leaders are defined more by how they handle a conflict than by what happens. Paul gets right to the point in his first letter to Timothy: address disobedience directly but do it with love. Why? Because when we extend grace in confronting issues, we inspire change. When we exert power for power’s sake or need to be right, we cause more division.
What you face isn’t nearly as important as how you face it. Servant leaders, like Paul, aren’t hesitant to share the hard truth, but they always temper it with grace. Jesus calls this loving our enemies. An enemy isn’t necessarily an attacker coming after your reputation, position, or close relationships—although this happens. Sometimes enemies are closer to home, like a family member who critiques your teaching style or a friend who quits her position working under you because she longs for a more spiritually mature mentor.
These situations sting and cause self-doubt. However, as leaders, we are called to keep our gaze on Jesus and not allow a spirit of defeat to overcome us. This is where our real enemy Satan loves to jump in and lead us to quit. Our Master knows how challenging it is to stand toe-to-toe with the father of lies and choose love.
What issues are you called to confront today? Do they feel personal? Or do you think that addressing people living outside of God’s design will create disagreements? Get your heart right with God and ensure that your motive is to love people well. Get behind your Lord and let him be the judge and jury. You can be willing to serve as his hands and feet.
Unless we lead with love, we will never see the potential fruit that can emerge from conflict. Even if both parties disagree, love makes a broader perspective possible. It builds respect and credibility. Love makes it possible for others to meet Jesus, especially in sticky or dark situations.
One of the greatest descriptions of such love is found in another scriptural passage written by Paul: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).
Prayerfully read this reminder before attempting to enter a difficult situation or conversation. To make it more personal, replace the word “love” with your name. Let the Holy Spirit prepare your heart and fill your mind with truth so that you express the love and peace found in Christ alone, whatever the outcome.
Loving well is our highest calling.
Reflection: What situations or people are most difficult for you to handle with love? Perhaps it isn’t your outward manner that’s unloving; your inner dialogue is just as damaging to godly leadership. Bring the situation before the Lord and get his perspective. Allow him to give you a new heart to help you lead more like Jesus. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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