Years ago I hired a friend as an associate pastor. He was a good man and I expected that our relationship would deepen.

Things went well for a while. Then we began to experience some relational tension. I was scared to address things head on, so they festered. Others became aware of the tension and took sides.

By the time he left, our relationship was unhealthy, and the damage affected the church.

My biggest staff mistake, and one of my biggest leadership mistakes, is that I didn’t address the tension directly. I wish that I had set up a meeting, locked the doors, and refused to leave until we had surfaced the issues and started to deal with them.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my ministry, but avoiding conflict was one of the biggest. Nobody likes conflict, and if you do you have other issues we need to discuss. But when we avoid conflict, we hurt relationships and damage the church.

Don’t like conflict? The best way to get more conflict is to try to avoid it.

Pastors don’t have the option of avoiding conflict. Run into the issues you most want to avoid. Don’t make the mistake that I did. Call a meeting, close the doors, and refuse to leave until you make progress.

Check out Crucial Conversations to read more about healthy conflict. If you are in a church and need help dealing with conflict, check out services like Creative Conciliation.