Conflict is never easy to deal with. I think that when we deal with conflict, we realize that we do have at least some spark of selfishness and pride in us which God needs to remove. For this reason, the first step in conflict resolution is to put aside selfishness and pride.

Selfishness: Musical preferences—what music is played or sung in church—are a huge source of conflict in churches today. However, the real source of musical conflict and war in the church is not the music itself but the attitude behind the demands. Instead of being “filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18, 19, NASB), people forget the Holy Spirit as they demand that the melody satisfy the emotional desires of their own hearts. The focus of the music actually turns inward for personal pleasure and satisfaction instead of outward and upward for God’s pleasure and satisfaction.

Underlying this conflict is the fact that too many Christians equate worship with how they feel and, because music so powerfully stirs our emotions, the end result is that people judge the worship service on how the music affected them. But worship is not only about how you feel or what you receive; true worship must be done in spirit and truth (John 4:24), which means it is about willfully giving God the honor and praise He is due. True worship includes Bible readings, prayer, an offering, and a sermon, as well as music. Perhaps our personal and corporate worship would improve if we would remember that God looks at our hearts and knows whether we are focused on worshiping Him or disgruntled because our personal preferences are not being met.

Pride: Pride is the opposite of humility, which is necessary for unity in the church. Humility regards other people as more important than self and seeks out the best interests of others, even when it requires personal sacrifice. That is exactly what Jesus did for us when He became a man and died in our place. He placed our interests above His own. Pride regards other people as less important than self and seeks to fulfill personal interests at the expense of others. That is the way of the world.

At least to some degree, pride plays a role in most conflicts. Pride demands its own way in issues of personal preference because pride believes its preferences are superior to those of others; therefore, it demands that people change to meet its desires. Pride is arrogant, so it is also damaging to the normal structure of relationships in any group, including the church.

If you are experiencing conflict, be humble and seek to work it out. In Matthew 5:23, 24, Jesus tells us that we need to reconcile with our brothers before we can properly worship God. We are to strive to be at peace with all men as far as it depends on us (Rom. 12:18). Jesus told us to love our enemies (Matt. 6:44); no matter how badly they have treated us, we are still to try to resolve conflicts with them following His advice. If we cannot work it out ourselves, then we should get help from someone who is godly and not involved in the conflict. When we see others in conflict, we should seek to help—or get help—instead of ignoring it.

The cause of Jesus Christ is damaged by unresolved conflicts. We need to make sure that we are part of the solution, not part of the problem. In that way, we may bring glory to our Savior’s name.