Confront and Support
“Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:37-39).
Conflict in the workplace, in ministry, or even marriage is inevitable because you are working closely with one another. God has wired each of us with different personalities that can view circumstances differently. One person can see a situation and conclude something totally different from another.
There are times when differences and conflicts just cannot be resolved. It doesn’t mean that one person or the other is evil or sinful. It just means that the difference of opinion or the personality clash has no solution.
We see an example of this in the relationship of Paul and Barnabas, two partners in Christian ministry who had a sharp disagreement regarding a young man named John Mark. In Acts 15, we see that Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on a missionary journey. However, Paul refused. John Mark had disappointed him once before and Paul didn’t want to give him another chance. In the end, Paul and Barnabas agreed to disagree and to part company. Paul went one way; Barnabas and John Mark went another. Sometimes, that’s the only solution to a disagreement.
There’s a postscript to this story: In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes from his prison cell in Rome and tells Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” Sometime after the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, John Mark redeemed himself and became a valued partner in Paul’s ministry. In fact, as Paul faced execution in Rome, he wanted his friend John Mark at his side.
Whenever there is disagreement, make sure you maintain support of the person at the same time you disagree with their position. Avoid personal attacks and implying motive behind someone else’s position. This will allow you to disagree and still maintain a relationship.