Crossroads: Conflict

Acts 15:36-41

My Story

When I was in the sixth grade, my church split. It wasn’t over doctrine, but instead was the result of a conflict between the pastor and the minister of music. This conflict grew from an argument to people taking sides, and the eventually splitting of this church. Both the pastor and the minister of music left, and the church was never the same.

Your Story

Think about a time when you had a disagreement with someone that resulted in losing the friendship/partnership/etc. What about this do you regret? What would you change if you could? When telling your child(ren) about a conflict you have faced, it’s important to keep it age appropriate. Young children don’t need to know all of the details. The lesson they need to take away is that everyone thinks differently and we should listen to and respect the opinions of others, even in the midst of disagreeing. For elementary aged children and teenagers, the lesson above is important; it’s also important to help them understand that sometimes they will disagree with someone else so much that they need to part company. The goal of this devotion is to help your family and particularly your children see that sometimes the solution is to stay away from the other person. In this Bible story, the conflict between Paul and Barnabas did not ruin their ministry. In fact, because they parted ways, Paul and Barnabas were able to reach even more people with the good news of Christ than they would have been able to together.

The Bible Story

“After a few days of this [teaching and preaching in Antioch], Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.’ Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up muscle and sinew in those congregations.” —Acts 15:36-41, The Message

In this passage, Paul and Barnabas find that they want different things. Barnabas believes that John Mark should get another chance and be allowed to travel with them. Paul, however, perhaps recognizing the enormity of the task at hand, doesn’t want to take along someone who might not be up to the challenge. They argue and end up parting company. The Bible doesn’t mention them traveling together again. Picture this story as if you were John Mark. You got scared when things were rough and literally abandoned ship. Have you ever done that? Have you ever run away in life when things got rough? If not, have you ever wanted to? Most of us (if not all of us) have at some point felt like it wasn’t worth it to hang in there. We either did, or wanted to run away from the storm in our life. As Christians, we understand that life is not always going to be easy. But sometimes it gets so rough that we just want to walk away from a situation, a conflict, a friendship. This story reminds us that the people in the Bible, some of the great leaders in the church, felt the same way. In fact, Paul and Barnabas even went separate ways because of this conflict! But there’s something we can learn from this story. This story reminds us that sometimes it’s okay to walk away. Sometimes we need to walk away from a situation, a person, or even a friendship. There are some conflicts that just aren’t solvable. The trick is in knowing which ones aren’t. For that, we have to rely on God. As you talk about this story with your children, help them to understand that sometimes you try everything and that person still won’t be happy. Sometimes the best thing you can do is stay away from the bully on the playground or even the friend who doesn’t want to be friends anymore. As the country song says, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” (Kenny Rogers)

Questions

• Ask your child about any conflicts they may be facing at school. How did they handle it? Do they feel like they’ve tried everything and still can’t resolve it?
• Talk about any conflicts in your family—how can these be resolved? What compromises can you make?

Prayer

Ask God for help in knowing how to handle conflicts this week. Ask God if there is a friendship or a situation from which you need to walk away.

Action

Find ways to resolve conflict within your family this week. Talk to your children each day about something that happened at school and how they can handle it.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Kevin Head began serving as Minister to Young Families at First Baptist Roswell, Georgia, in February 2012. He has pastored three churches in Kentucky and more recently served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, North Carolina. In 2007, Kevin and his wife, Amy, began a ministry-based counseling practice called New Perspectives for Life in East Cobb, Georgia. He is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D., M.Div.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Belvedere, South Carolina. His model of ministry is based on John 8 and the amazing, continual grace of Jesus Christ. Kevin and Amy have two children, Jenna and Joshua.

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