Conflict with other missionaries consistently ranks as one of the primary reasons for workers leaving the field. Indeed, in the Bible one of the greatest missionary teams had sufficient conflict to merit dividing and going separate ways (Acts 15.36-41). It’s highly unlikely that you can serve on the field for a significant amount of time and not have interpersonal conflict.
The process for dealing with conflict on the mission field is the same process outlined in Matt. 18.15-20. Begin by receiving the offended person or going directly to the offender. While presuming the best about each other’s motives until proven otherwise (I Cor. 13.4-7), work out the conflict as early as possible. If the parties in conflict cannot resolve their problems, they need to take their conflict to successive levels of appropriate leaders, until leaders at the highest level render a final decision on the conflict, by which all parties should graciously abide.
On the mission field, the leaders that you and other missionaries will have in common are your team leaders, possibly country leaders, and regional leaders. If conflict continues unresolved, keep your sending church advised and seek its guidance. While it does not have spiritual authority over other churches’ missionaries with whom you work, it is your spiritual authority and should seek to spiritually guide you personally through this process.
In general, approach conflict resolution with humility and patience. Move to solve conflict early and quickly before it grows (Eph. 4.26). Don’t allow conflict to grow into a root of bitterness (Heb. 12.15).
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