Step 5 Refer to Higher Authority

When parties cannot or will not agree on what to do to resolve a conflict, each person has two other options:

  • Refer the matter to others to decide (Step 5); or,
  • Take unilateral action (one-sided, without consent or cooperation from the opponents or higher authorities) to deal with the situation (Step 6).

The hallmark of higher authority is that the parties give control of the decision to someone else. Sometimes this is to break a “tie” and other times because the authority is in the best position—based on knowledge, expertise and/or accountability—to render an equitable and just decision.

Jesus’ describes the higher authority step in Mathew 18:15-17 with the words “tell it to the church,” which is the higher authority among believers.

But what does this mean for a 21st Century Christian in conflict with a pastor, or member of the staff, or another church member? How about husbands and wives? Or conflicts between the church and a secular vendor, or the County or other governmental agency?

Click the links below for more guidance on the Higher Authority step.