There is a real danger in selecting people for church leadership who have a history of repeated and/or unresolved conflict. On more than one occasion I have overlooked conflict in a person’s life, reasoning that it was either justified or forced upon him as the innocent party.
The fact is, even when circumstances or theology justify their side of the conflict, a man or woman can still be a quarrelsome person. This usually demonstrates itself in a lack of gentleness, a tendency to take rigid positions when none are required, an inability to lose graciously, or simply an over-love of debate. Whatever form it takes, quarrelsomeness is a disqualifier for one to serve as an elder (I Timothy 3:3).
Yet, if we are to care for the flock after the pattern of Jesus, then pastor-elders must be men of toughness as well as meekness. This means conflict might be called for at times to protect the flock, but always in a measured response. A wishy-washy elder who is a compromiser and easily swayed is a danger to the health of a church congregation as much as a quarrlemsone person is. So weakness is not the answer either. Meekness does not mean weakness. Moses and Jesus were both described as meek (Numbers 12:3; Matt. 11:28), yet we also see them involved in conflict when called for.
There is a difference between a quarrelsome person and one who contends for the faith.
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