God wants you to have a fruitful ministry and become a peacemaker—the kind of leader who heals broken relationships instead of creating them.
But too often, there's conflict. It can destroy relationships, devastate communities and ruin ministries. Many pastors have seen unresolved conflict wreak havoc over the most important areas of their lives.
It's easy to see why. Unresolved conflict will block your fellowship with God, prevent answered prayers and generally make you miserable.
When you find yourself in the midst of conflict, here's a simple five-step, biblical path to peace.
1. Plan a peace meeting (Matt. 5:24). Take the initiative. Don't wait for the other person to make the first move. It doesn't matter if you're the offended or the offender. It's always your move.
Take the initiative because Jesus said so. Plus, it shows that you're more mature.
You will never resolve conflict accidentally. You must intentionally deal with it, or it will never go away. Schedule a sit-down, face-to-face meeting. Don't wait to do this either. In Matthew 5:24 (GNT), Jesus emphasizes that you're to begin this process "at once." It'll get harder the longer you wait.
2. Empathize with their feelings (Phil. 5:24). Once you begin the peace meeting, start with the other person's pain. You're usually thinking of your own hurts when you're upset. You need to do the opposite. Think more about the other person than yourself. Try to understand the pain behind their angry words. Ask yourself, "How can I help the other person?"
One benefit of conflict is that it usually leads to greater intimacy in the relationship because it helps you better understand the other person as you empathize with their pain.
3. Attack the problem, not the person (Prov. 15:1). You can't focus on fixing the problem and fixing the blame at the same time. If you go to the peace meeting thinking you'll blame the other person, then forget it. You can't make peace like that. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up."
Engage your mind before you engage your mouth. Then say helpful words, not ones that tear the other person down. As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29, use "only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed."
4. Cooperate as much as possible (Rom. 12:18). Be a bridge-builder and not a bridge-destroyer. In Romans 12:18, the Bible reminds us to live at peace with everyone, as much as possible. Your ability to get along should be a hallmark of the Christian life.
That means you must be willing to pay the cost. Peacemaking always has a cost. It will cost your ego and selfishness. You'll need to give up your desire to always be right. And when you do, you'll begin to build bridges.
5. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution (2 Cor. 5:18). Reconciliation doesn't mean you'll resolve all the problems in your relationship. It simply means to reestablish the relationship. Often you have legitimate differences in your relationships and will never fully resolve them. Reconciliation means you bury the hatchet, not the issue. You keep talking about it, but you talk about it harmoniously.
Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, not the problem.
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:18 that God has modeled reconciliation for us. When you work to reconcile your relationships, you're doing what God has already done in your relationship with Him. Working toward reconciliation is the most Christlike thing you can do.
Pastor, you can become a peacemaker in your home, in your church and in your community. The Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matt. 5:9, NIV). God gives all of us the ministry of peacemaking.
Get started today. Set up the peace meeting. Begin the conversation.
Become a peacemaker.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
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