by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27 NASB
Have you ever been a part of a ministry or Bible study that, for whatever reason, went toxic? Though our inclination might be to walk away, God may be calling us to glorious assignment: that of speaking life, light, and health into darkness. I refer to this as mountaintop living.
Rather than allowing others to drag us into their dysfunction, we can help them rise to a Christ-inspired elevation.
Every believer is called to be a peacemaker, and this runs so much deeper than merely avoiding conflict. Biblical peace is God’s gift of wholeness as lives and hearts become aligned with truth.
Here are 4 steps to help you bring peace to dysfunctional situations.
- Center yourself in love.
Though we may convince ourselves otherwise, most often, conflict avoidance is rooted in self-love rather than love for others. We fear their negative reaction, retaliation, or rejection. But Jesus, who perfectly embodied love, routinely initiated tough conversations. He told the woman caught in adultery to stop sinning, the rich young ruler to sell all he possessed, and openly rebuked Peter for trying to persuade Him to avoid the cross. With each of these interactions, He was in essence saying, “I love you, and I’m willing to risk what you think of me to see you walk in truth.”
Remember, truth sets people free. May we, as God’s ambassadors, assume the role of liberators as well.
- Focus on growth not solutions.
When problems or disagreements arise, it’s easy to fixate on the difficulty, but Romans 8:28-29 tells us God uses all things, relational discord included, for our good and to transform us into the likeness of His Son. We need to align ourselves with God’s purposes, helping people toward maturity through healthy and Christ-centered interactions. When others grow frustrated, we can model patience grounded in our trust in God. When jealousy sparks harsh words or hurtful comments, we can lovingly direct the conversation to the cross. Modeling healthy conflict-resolution skills will benefit our churches for years to come, long after the current situation resolves.
- Ask Heart-probing Questions.
Most often, when individuals fight, the issue is more a symptom than the actual problem. For example, when my husband and I were first married, I spent a lot of time nagging him about dirty socks left on the floor or food crumbs on the counter. When I finally evaluated my feelings, I realized it wasn’t the actual mess that vexed me: it took less than a minute to pick up the laundry or wipe the counter. What was really upsetting me was in feeling I was being taken for granted. Once I recognized that, we were better able to deal with the root of my emotions.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (NIV). Lovingly and respectfully asking thoughtful questions can effectively uncover an underlying concern or fear. Honest questions also have a way of defusing anger or anxiety by assuring others they have a voice.
Through prayer, God may reveal that He already has a solution in place; He might call us to simply be still and wait on Him. Or, He may provide the perfect words for us to speak at the perfect time. Either way, He will guide us toward His very best for every situation.
No one enjoys conflict. But in every situation, we have an opportunity to demonstrate mountaintop living—to draw others into a place of wholeness. By bathing our efforts in love, focusing on truth, and seeking and following God’s guidance, we can be an instrument of peace to dark and dysfunctional scenarios.
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.
Hometown Healing: She’s home again, but not for long…
unless this cowboy recaptures her heart…
Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?
Join the conversation: Have you had an opportunity to be a peacemaker in a difficult situation? Please share!