Acts 15:36-41
When Personalities Clash

When Personalities Clash

Paul and Barnabas, two lifelong friends, colleagues, and partners in mission end up embroiled in a heated conflict which takes all of us by surprise.

Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Acts 15:36-41 NLT

This word we translate as strong disagreement conveys the idea of strong emotions, red and distorted faces, loud voices, things said better left unsaid.

But when you analyze this incident you realize that this clash was fueled basically by personality differences.

  1. Our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness
    • Paul's strength was his unwavering commitment to follow Christ and the truth no matter what the cost
    • Barnabas' greatest strength was his ability to see the undeveloped potential in others and give others a second, third, and fourth chance
  2. Take the initiative to be reconciled with others
    • The work of Christ is greater than any one of us.  And God uses all different personality types to build his kingdom
  3. Take a deep breath and analyze your hurt feelings
    • Why am I so angry?
    • What is the real nature of our disagreement?
    • Is there some common ground that we can build on?
  4. What Godly qualities can I develop through this clash?


When we face personality differences in the church, we need to be diligent in guarding the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We need to seek to work out our differences if possible in a spirit of love and kindness.

If we must part ways, we should continue serving the Lord and not let the enemy get us to attack those whom God has given different personalities than He has given us.