We must show mercy and not judge people unfairly.
We must show mercy and not judge people unfairly. (Flickr )

Oh, how I despise those sticky, hard to solve, difficult-to-mediate situations in life and in ministry! When circumstances and events converge into a necessary confrontation with a brother or sister over a delicate issue, I just want to pull the covers over my head for six months ... or six years.

When it is needful to have a painful conversation over a difference or an opinion, I become that infamous turtle and withdraw into a shell of invisibility.

When someone is offended by a the actions of another in the body of Christ and I, as a leader, have to help them find common ground in spite of emotions and contrariness, I wilt like a flower in the hot summer sunshine.

Leadership is hard and people are ornery! The canyon of personal opinion can be gaping and wide even between two people who share the same belief system.

And yet, the Holy Spirit calls me to be a minister of reconciliation.

"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18).

I must not escape the calling I have been given; I have been called to be a reconciler. God has appointed me to be an agent of peace and a vessel of righteousness.

I long to be the type of leader who is able to clearly hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and to follow His leading in spite of fragile circumstances, difficult emotions and polarizing opinions. My heart aches to be the type of woman who can discern the true heart of an issue and then to move ahead with biblical grace and immaculate character.

Although I may have the propensity to discern ulterior motives or questionable influences, I must determine that I will not judge unfairly or impetuously. I must ask for wisdom, expect wisdom and receive the wisdom of God on every matter in which I am involved.

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).

I don't want to win an argument ... I want God to win!

I don't want my opinion to prevail ... I want God to speak the loudest!

I don't want to force my viewpoints, but I want a heavenly perspective on all that I say and all that I do.

However, what does a leader do when a decision must be made and there is no move toward a workable compromise between two people? Is it possible to "agree to disagree"? Does somebody have to win all the time?

When tempers flare and opinions separate and a breech in relationship is looming, we must point all parties to a particular Scripture that holds eternal wisdom and the only possible solution in a difficult situation:

"For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13).

Mercy triumphs! Mercy calls the winning play! Mercy foreshadows the victory shout!

Judgment is a sure way to lose at life, to lose at relationships and to lose ground. A critical and judgmental spirit has never won a battle, never won an argument and never built a bridge.

It's mercy that identifies a person as a champion. It's mercy that creates an atmosphere where everyone wins.

And so if I am guilty of anything, let me be accused of being too merciful. Let the only allegation that is hurled in my direction be that I show too much grace.

This, my friend, is a leadership skill that is sorely lacking in the church and in the world today. As you encounter difficult people, challenging situations and no-win circumstances, remind yourself of the truth that echoes down through the ages:

Mercy wins!

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.

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