“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Yet, conflict can leave us paralyzed or running in the opposite direction. I do not know about you, but experiencing disagreement, tension, or an argument can feel so uncomfortable because it dismantles keeping conflict at bay and sometimes ruffles feathers. While the aim to keep the peace is not bad in and of itself, being a peacekeeper thwarts one’s internal peace.

A peacekeeper desires to maintain a sense of calmness and peace by avoiding conflict and tension that can certainly bring a situation to a more solid and mutually beneficial place.

On the other hand, a peacemaker is someone who is willing to acknowledge and move towards resolving both inner and outer turmoil with the goal of establishing peace with others and within himself or herself. A peacemaker will not typically steer clear of disagreement to keep others happy let alone sacrifice their own inner peace to perpetuate the facade of peace with others. So, to step into being a peacemaker means leaning into the tension and conflict with the goal of restoring internal and relational peace.

Let’s look at the greatest example of a peacemaker, Jesus, who was given the name “Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). God longed to restore and transform our chaotic world with His peace and love. In order to have peace within ourselves and with others, we first needed peace between ourselves and God. So God sent Jesus to restore our relationship with Him. Jesus came as the Prince of Peace to be the One who would finally bring peace to the world.

Jesus, however, did not aim to placate and appease at the cost of helping others experience greater faithfulness, unity, and oneness with God let alone harmony among creation. Jesus challenged the religious leader’s beliefs, confronted sin, questioned the disciples, and taught despite persecution. Even with the cultural differences and obstacles, we can learn a lot about navigating tense situations in a gracious way by following his example. Jesus models for us how to speak truth and step into greater faithfulness while emulating compassion, graciousness, slowness to anger, and overflowing loyal love. He teaches us by doing.

With that in mind, let’s reframe conflict as an opportunity for inner and relational peace  rather than a source of inner and relational chaos.

In order to be peacemakers we can’t avoid conflict, honesty, and tense situations. Yet, we can trust that his strength is perfected in our weakness when we are calling out to him for aid and keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. By stepping into being a peacemaker we have the opportunity to glorify God, serve others and look more like Jesus.

  • Glorify God (by trusting, obeying, and imitating him)
  • Serve other people (by helping to bear their burdens or by confronting them in love)
  • Grow to be like Christ (by confessing wrong and turning from attitudes that stir up divisiveness and disunity)

Ways to approach conflict as a peacemaker:

Overlooking an OffenseDealing with an offense yourself by simply deciding to forgive a wrong.

Talking-It-Out — Going directly to the other person to talk out your disagreements.

  • Keeping the peace tends to look like letting things slide and turning a blind eye for the sake of avoiding confrontation. This can undoubtedly breed and perpetuate injustice, festering wounds of bitterness, and relational disconnect and breakdown. There’s a time to let things go, but there is also a time to speak up and step into courage by taking action.
  • While not every conflict results in both parties agreeing, most of the time, two parties can peacefully agree to disagree while still respecting and honoring the other. Making peace looks like conversing and leaning into the opportunity to reach peace with oneself and another. This opportunity has the potential to cultivate reconciliation and genuine resolve and relationship build-up.

Speaking with Truth and Love —Disagreement is not the same as disrespect.

  • The tension between truth and love in the midst of a disagreement is real. This tension involves speaking honestly about what you believe to be true while still giving value to the other person AND to what they are saying. Both truth and love have a place at the table.
  • “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
  • Use “I” messages and questions to take accountability for how you feel.
  • Respond respectfully and demonstrate both honor for self and the other person during the conflict.

Seeking Support — Ask another safe and supportive peacemaker to help you navigate handling this conflict.

  • Sometimes we need help to walk boldly and confidently, and that is okay! It can be incredibly helpful to have this confidant’s support to stay on course (i.e., speaking with truth and love while honoring your feelings and thoughts and those of the other person).

Remember, your voice, feelings, thoughts, and experiences matter, and you are capable of speaking truth and disagreeing in love.

While learning to be a peacemaker requires practice and time, it is possible to make peace instead of keeping it. As peacemakers, we can promote both inner peace with self and outer peace in relationships by moving toward conflict versus running away from it. By stepping into being a peacemaker we look more like Jesus and in courage and posture.

-Carlyn Joseph –