As I coach people through conflict, time and again I am reminded of just how much perspective matters. To illustrate this, on one occasion I invited four individuals to sit down at each side of a square table. After placing ten small objects of varying shapes on the tabletop, I asked everyone to sketch a picture of what they saw. At the end of the exercise, we looked at each picture and observed vastly different images. Why? Everyone was seeing those objects from a different vantage point. It wasn’t that anyone offered an inaccurate visual interpretation. The resulting differences were primarily a matter of perspective.
When conflict enters my space, I encounter a similar dilemma. I tend to see a situation from only one perspective – mine! While most disagreements are rooted in reality, the fact is that my perception often becomes my reality. Throughout the years I have found that when I am open to another point of view and do my best to see the proverbial “picture” from another perspective, my take on reality becomes more complete.
In those times when strife begins to surface, it helps to remember that we don’t know the whole story. We only know half of the story – our half. When we are willing to ask questions then, under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, humbly listen to and receive the other person’s uninhibited answers, our perspectives can be transformed in a way that allows us to see the big picture – not just the part that impacts us. Once our hearts are open to understanding a brother or sister’s hurts and interests, it can serve as a catalyst to authentic confession and connection.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Is it time to talk to a friend or foe about a difficult situation that has impacted your relationship? Here are some questions that can guide that time of listening, learning, and connecting: What impact have my actions had on you? How have I hurt you? What do you believe the consequences should be? What can I do to make things right? How would you like me to change my behavior?
Up Ahead on “The Path”
Check out next week’s blog post as we continue to consider the importance of confession as part of connecting. As always, thanks for reading and sharing The Path of a Peacemaker blog!
Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries
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