Disagreement abounds these days. But Muriel’s wise advice in this week’s Monday Minute, reminds us that God has called us to something higher.
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
by Muriel Gregory
“Why are you taking Main Street? You know it is much faster to drive down 7th! We are going to be late for the Hail and Farewell.” Frustration and annoyance seasoned the words I muttered to my husband. He quickly snapped back with a remark about how I think I always know better. For the next 20 minutes we argued over who was more right than the other. We raised our voices and arrived at the event flustered and a bit peeved.
I am willing to bet this scenario resonates with you if you have been married for more than a year (and sometimes less…) Disagreements are part of life. Whether it is in your marriage, with your children, co-workers, neighbors, and/or the last referee’s call. Since we all have different perspectives, likes and dislikes, we are bound to disagree.
During this heated fellowship episode with my husband, we ended up driving down main street and arrived on time at the event. Truth be told the argument was petty and pointless.
There are times, however, when issues arise and we must address them.
Some of us will shy away from that because it potentially leads to conflict. Most days I would rather get a root canal than engage in conflict. Over the years I assumed I was choosing peace and that was what Jesus wanted me to do, only to eventually realize he calls us to be peacemakers not peacekeepers.
Keeping the peace at all costs only creates more issues over time due to their compounding effect. If I ignore the toothache and neglect to get a filling, I will need a root canal. My strong dislike of conflict turned me into more of a peacekeeper than peacemaker. This has created more issues than it solved.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
During a serious disagreement someone, if not both parties involved, will get hurt. But there is a difference between hurt and harm. We are called to do good and not harm (1 Cor. 13:4-8). Hurt is a part of life.
When a disagreement arises here are a few things to remember:
- Define the issue. Sometimes a bad mood and lack of sleep are the problem. If it is an actual issue, it is crucial to stick to it and not bring up other topics or past situations.
- Is it the right time to talk about it? When both parties are rested and ready, you are more likely to solve the problem. When the night owl tries to communicate with the early bird it only escalates the conflict.
- Listen to the other person. I am guilty of speaking too quickly without taking the time to listen first. It is important to show respect by being attentive not just to the words but also the body language. (James 1:19; Proverbs 18:2)
- Aim for a win-win situation.
- Tame your tongue. Watch your tone and body language. Are you communicating care and openness or are you being defensive and hostile?
Remember that we are all sinners. Things can escalate and deteriorate quickly when not handled properly. Being open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and starting with prayer will set the tone for constructive interactions.
Conflict is inevitable but with the right mindset and attitude, they can be solved for the benefit of all. That is the end goal of a peacemaker.
Pray Pray before the conversation. Pray in the midst of the disagreement. Then, pray after and ask God to search your heart and reveal your motives. Psalm 139:23-24
Train What does the Bible say about the topic you are disagreeing about? Has Jesus faced a similar situation? How did he handle it? The Bible should always be our guide and source of wisdom. James 1:5
Build Words have the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Use them wisely to build up the other person, not destroy them. Building up does not mean agreeing with everything they say. If they are led astray by their thinking, use your words to guide them back to the way everlasting.
Lord, when conflicts arise and disagreements threaten our peace, guide my words and my actions to reflect your will in those situations. Give me the wisdom to know when to engage and when to walk away. May I be an instrument of your peace. Amen.