Conflict is neither good nor bad. It is just inevitable, and it’s another tool for leadership. Jesus Christ started most of the ones he experienced, so why should his faithful disciples expect to avoid them?
A dying parishioner of mine didn't care about the church budget or the
sexual orientation of the choir director. He just wanted help finding a
faith to carry him through a life that'd been full of interruptions.
Eating at my city grandmother's table was a chore. I remember being dressed up, speaking in soft tones
if at all, and being terrified of spilling on that lace
tablecloth. But my country grandma served her meals in the kitchen.
She is foggy, struggling to find the old gifts of conversation. But she knows me, I think. I
tell her all of the reassuring things that pastors say in such a
setting. "The Creator who has watched over you all of the days of your
life is now holding you in those sacred hands." She smiles and
struggles to respond with words I barely understand.
I noticed a disheveled and unshaven man in his early fifties a few barstools down from me. Something about him seemed uninviting. Soon an attractive 40-something woman arrived in a crisp little black dress and perched on the stool next to him. She seemed nervous.
Martha Tidwell sat before me wearing a blue pants suit and a weary face. Four years ago she left her high-paying job as an accountant after having discerned, with her church’s help, that she was called by God to begin the process of becoming a pastor. Her husband, Ted, was supportive and quit his job as well so that they could come to Pittsburgh to begin her studies.