(This is a guest post. Find out more about Jennifer Slattery below.) Have you ever been a part of a church, ministry, or Bible study group that became toxic, divided, or dysfunctional? When this happens, our first inclination might be to leave. Yet sometimes, God calls us to be His peacemaker instead. As His ambassador of peace, we can speak life, light, and health into areas of darkness.
In general, every believer is called to be a peacemaker. But there can also be specific times when God calls an individual believer to make a difference in a specific situation. He calls us to resist joining in the disunity and dysfunction and instead help others to rise above it to embrace peace and unity.
True biblical peace runs much deeper than the mere absence of conflict. Biblical peace is God’s gift of wholeness as lives and hearts become aligned with truth. Have you been called to be God’s peacemaker? The following five strategies can help you help them!
Four steps toward peace
- Center yourself in love – Many of us naturally run from conflict. However, conflict avoidance comes from self-love rather than love for others. We might fear an unpleasant reaction, retaliation, or rejection. But Jesus, who is the perfect embodiment of love, routinely initiated tough conversations. He told the woman caught in adultery to stop sinning, the rich young ruler to sell all he possessed, and openly rebuked Peter for trying to persuade Him to avoid the cross. Jesus’ love for them fostered a strong desire to see them walk in the freedom of God’s truth.
- Focus on growth, not solutions – When problems or disagreements arise, it’s easy to fixate on the difficulty. But God is able to use all things – including relational discord to make us more like His Son (Romans 8:28-29). With that goal in mind, we can focus on others’ spiritual growth and Christ-centered interactions. For example, when jealousy sparks harsh words or hurtful comments, we can lovingly direct the conversation to the cross. And through it all, we can model healthy conflict-resolution skills that will benefit our churches for years to come, long after the current situation resolves.
- Ask heart-probing questions – When individuals fight, the surface issue is rarely the real issue. For example, when I was first married, I spent a lot of time nagging my husband about dirty socks on the floor and crumbs on the counter. But when I honestly evaluated my feelings, I realized the small messes weren’t the real problem. Instead, their presence made me feel taken for granted, like my husband didn’t value me and my homemaking efforts. Once I recognized that, we could deal with the root of my emotions. Asking thoughtful questions demonstrates love and respect and helps everyone involved uncover the underlying concern or fear (Proverbs 20:5). Honest questions also have a way of defusing anger and anxiety by assuring others they have a voice.
- Pray – Through prayer, God may reveal that He already has a solution in place; He might call us to simply be still as we wait on Him. Or, He may provide the perfect words for us to speak at the perfect time. Either way, He will guide us toward His very best for every situation.
As you use the 5 steps above to foster peace, always seek and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And enlist the help of a mature believer if you need additional help. No one enjoys conflict or unhealthy groups and relationships. But peacemakers can be God’s tools to bring unity and growth.
Have you ever played the role of peacemaker? If so, what did God do in the situation?
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who hasaddressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She maintains a devotional blog found atJennifer Slattery Lives Out Loudand on Crosswalk. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Love Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Contact her HEREto book her for your next women’s event. Jennifer’s newest book is “Hometown Healing”
Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good? Buy it HERE.
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Great stuff here, Jennifer. When I think of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, He didn’t sweep our sin problem under the carpet. He dealt with it head-on, naming it for what it was, effectively speaking truth into the situation,and sacrificing His own glory to bring us to salvation. All the while, loving unconditionally through making peace. We have the perfect example of a peacemaker in Him! Great post.
Love your comment and example! So true!