“Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.”
I have come to the conclusion that one of the most culture damaging statement in business is, “We can agree to disagree”. This one sentence is both passive aggressive and reputation covering (very nice way of saying it). When we hear that someone is agreeing to disagree we should intercede and ask what is the action that is going to happen next? And when that is determined, then there needs to be a checking of commitment to that action by both people, without exception and most importantly without anyone saying later, “I told you so”, or “Well, I never really agreed.” There is a way to have a healthy disagreement and that is to continue to work through the decision or the action until there is an agreement or a path forward to a clean disagreement that allows everyone to go in their separate directions.
Paul and Barnabas could not come to an agreement and so instead, went their separate ways. We learn later that this disagreement was not fatal to their relationship, because the foundation of their work together was a shared belief and relationship with Christ. This is what we can take from this account; that there is a way to disagree with others without causing animosity or harbored ill-feelings. How do we do this? We can call on God to allow the Holy Spirit to direct our words, emotions and reactions to other. We can call on Him to allow us be like Paul; to disagree with a close friend and brother but not to let it get in the way of the work that God wants us to do.
Reference: Acts 15:39 (New Living Translation)