I hate conflict
I know. The statement “I hate conflict!” might sound a bit strong. But really, who enjoys conflict? If you’re like me, you’ll try to avoid conflict as much as possible. I thought my efforts to avoid conflict originated from my desire to be a peacemaker, however, I have since discovered that my avoidance was really a form of peace faking…
Walking in a calling of peace
In the Bible it says; “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- one Lord, one faith….” Ephesians 4:1-32
A new perspective on peacemaking
Understanding that the heart of peacemaking is relational is foundational in the perspective we will have as we approach peacemaking. Being at peace with God is relational. And walking in peace with others means working on our relationships with others. The PeaceWise courses Everyday Peacemaking and Heart of Peacemaking helped me recognise that peace is not present if a relationship has no sense of unity, where conflict is present but left unspoken and unresolved. The bond of peace in relationships takes work to maintain. While overlooking an offence that has not caused any damage to a relationship is certainly an act of love, there will be times when bearing in love with another will actually mean courageously going to a friend in humility and having the tough conversation to let them know you have been hurt.
Peacemaking as an opportunity
I have discovered the value of doing some heart work myself before having a conversation with a friend where I have felt a sense of conflict. The biblical concept that my response to conflict could glorify God and be an opportunity for something really good to come from a disagreement gave me a sense of hope and courage to approach conflict with a new perspective.
Taking the time to recognise my own contribution in a conflict has helped me to be more humble and gentle in approaching an initial conversation. Knowing that listening to my friend who I have had a disagreement with is really important has helped me be patient and willing to work towards shared creative solutions that have then led to some really wonderful outcomes and strengthening of relationship. These are all biblical values that I have learned in doing the PeaceWise training.
Building a culture of peace
When there are so many circumstances in our world where we sense conflict brewing, it is worth considering that all good things start small and can start with us. I find this quote of Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize 1984) inspiring
“ Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”.
I think the little bit of good I can bring the world is to work for peace in every relationship I have. Perhaps if we all do this, we might find our world overwhelmed with goodness and a more peaceful place to live.
Kath is co-founding pastor of Northridge Vineyard church with her husband Phil. They have 2 adult children and are happy grandparents. Kath and Phil are PeaceWise trainers and are mentors / spiritual directors for leaders in Christian ministry.