Congratulations: You’ve Been Promoted to Management!

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Seeing conflict as an opportunity leads to an amazingly effective approach to managing conflict, which I refer to as “stewarding.” This approach gives the phrase conflict management a unique emphasis. When Jesus talked about managing something, he was usually referring to a servant who had been entrusted by his master with certain resources and responsibilities (e.g., Luke 12:42). The Bible calls such a person a steward. A steward is not supposed to manage things for his own pleasure, convenience, or benefit. Instead, he is expected to follow his master’s instructions and look out for his master’s interests, even if they conflict with his own personal desires or convenience (John 12:24-26).

The concept of stewardship is especially relevant to peacemaking. Whenever you are involved in a conflict, God has given you a management opportunity. He has empowered you through the gospel and entrusted you with abilities and spiritual resources. His Word clearly explains how he wants you to manage the situation. The more faithfully you draw on his grace and follow his instructions, the more likely you are to see a constructive solution and genuine reconciliation.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 38-39.

Food for Thought

 

With the economy struggling as it is, most of us are grateful to even have a job, let alone worry about trying to get a promotion. But remember, you already have been promoted to management!

So are you being a good steward of the conflict God has given to you to manage on His behalf? Are there any conflicts you are “stewarding” today according to your own desires–rather than His desire? Are there any conflicts you are managing by your principles rather than His? With God’s grace, any conflict you’re facing can be transformed by seeing it as a stewardship opportunity for which He has given you ample resources to manage. Remember: God is the best manager of all. He would never give you a responsibility without the resources to meet that challenge.

Dying to Produce Many Seeds

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When you are weighing your personal interests and responsibilities, be careful not to twist the concept of stewarding to your advantage. I have seen many people who believe that stewardship means preserving everything they have. Thus, they refuse to lay down any rights or sacrifice any property in the interest of peace. Jesus condemns this notion — he does not want us to either stockpile or spend anything for our own pleasure or convenience. Instead, he wants us to invest our resources wisely and gain the maximum return for his kingdom (Matt. 25:24-27). This certainly means protecting our rights and assets from wasteful sacrifices, but it also means expending them willingly on spiritually profitable ventures. Just as seed must be sacrificed to produce a crop, our personal rights and material assets must sometimes be surrendered to sow the gospel and produce a spiritual harvest (John 12:24-26).

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 96

 

Food for Thought

Recall the last time giving up something felt like dying.

Those verses from John 12 are full of rich “harvest” imagery — “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Ken warns us against the wasteful sacrifice — something the heart of Christ does not desire; however, this seems to be the minority experience. The majority of the time, we are being asked to expend our rights and assets willingly on spiritually profitable ventures. And Jesus tells us exactly how that is going to feel, each and every time. Like the kernel of wheat, it’s going to feel like dying.

We can appropriately use the word sacrifice, but the word die or dying probably holds more power in our hearts and minds. The expansion of the peaceable kingdom comes alongside the death of our own pleasure or convenience. Jesus willingly demonstrated this and set an example to be followed. Resurrection is a reality that we as believers should cling to with a fierce tenacity; but we must remember that something specific always precedes resurrection — death. But if it dies, it produces many seeds…

Gentle Giants

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In many situations, the best way to resolve a conflict is simply to overlook the personal offenses of others. This approach is highly commended throughout Scripture:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13; cf. Eph. 4:32).

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 82

Food for Thought

Do people keep their distance from you unless you’re well fed and rested?

If you’ll look at the verses above, you’ll notice a common word — BEAR — bearing with one another in love and bear with each other. As peacemakers, we are called to bear with one another; however, how many times are we a bear to one another? How many days find us just like an old grizzly that has been prematurely awakened from his winter slumber — mad at the world and letting everybody know about it? How many times do we react just like that big brown bear that growls and roars when he finds someone else in his fishing hole?

You see, we can be a bear or we can bear with — and the two are entirely different approaches to people and life. If the issue is protecting your young, then be a bear and don’t back down — guard them well. Beyond that kind of a scenario, most other situations call for us to bear with…and those times can help us remember.

Bear with…

  • The person ahead of you in traffic who’s out for a leisurely Sunday drive while you’re twenty minutes late for church. And remember that it’s your heart God wants, not matching socks.
  • The neighbor who occasionally leaves a porch light shining directly on your spot in the bed. And remember that God often speaks between 2-4 a.m.
  • The pastor who preaches a “less-than” sermon once every couple of months. And remember that your church called a man, not a god.
  • The spouse who has been sick for three weeks while you’ve had to pick up the family slack. And remember that you promised “in sickness and in health.”
  • That other situation that God is laying on your heart right now. Remember that he is faithful.

The Power of Words

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Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him
who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

Words play a key role in almost every conflict. When used properly, words promote understanding and encourage agreement. When misused, they usually aggravate conflicts and drive people further apart. If your words seem to do more harm than good when you try to resolve a disagreement, don’t give up. With God’s help you can improve your ability to communicate constructively.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 162

Food for Thought

Have you felt like your words have “aggravated conflict” lately?

Maybe your words were careless–you just didn’t think them through. Or maybe they weren’t loving, true as they might have been. Remember, our words can either be powerful vessels of God’s grace or can be the spark that sets the forest afire (see James 3:2-12). Reflect on your words during your last conflict. How would you characterize them? Pray that when you are “speaking the truth” today, it would be “speaking the truth in love.