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How to be a Peacemaker

How to be a Peacemaker

Many of us live in conflict. This is sad, but true.

It is particularly sad because we all want so desperately to live in peace. We want lives free from conflict.

I think we do many things wrong, that end up causing us even more conflict. While most of us don’t go looking for a fight, I’m not sure how much effort people expend to be ‘peace makers,’ or even ‘peace keepers.’

“I just want to live in peace,” a fifty-year old man recently said to me. “I’ve been at odds with my wife for years. I just don’t want to do it anymore.”

“Why do you think you are at odds with her so much?” I asked, noticing him look blankly at me. His eyes looked sad and a bit sunken as he appeared to be reflecting pensively.

He chuckled.

“If I knew that,” he said, pausing, “I’d stop whatever it was.”

“Would you?” I asked. “A lot of people say they want peace more than anything, but they do a lot of things that either create conflict, or don’t do what they could do to bring about peace.”

“Oh, I don’t think I’m the one to create the conflict,” he said defensively. "I know I’m pointing the finger here, but my wife is not an easy woman to live with.”

“So, you’d say it is mostly her fault that there is so much conflict?”

“I know this sounds self-righteous, but ‘yes’ I think it is mostly her,” he said. “Not that I create my share of problems, but the lion’s share is on her.”

Most of us echo this man. We point the finger elsewhere, failing to see our part in the equation. Much of the time, we are missing the boat. We are doing far more to contribute to the conflict than we realize, and perhaps more important, we are not doing our part to be peacemakers and peacekeepers.

Here are a few more guidelines on how to be peacemakers. Consider how you are doing at these practical principles.

First, recognize that being a peacemaker is much more than avoiding conflict. Peacemakers make peace—they don’t simply fight fair and manage conflict. They seize opportunities to bring harmony to a situation. They are perceptive to what a situation needs to bring peace to it. They admit wrongdoing and accept responsibility for their part in any issue. They seek reconciliation with others and value peace more than being right. They give up ground even if they are entitled to it.

Second, understand that we are all called to be peacemakers. Scripture tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). As Christ followers we are to be instruments of peace. Just as Christ was a peacemaker, so we are to be peacemakers. If one person in a relationship will bring reconciliation, peace is likely to occur. It takes two to tango, (or tangle) but only one to promote peace.  

Third, seek opportunities to bring peace. Every day you will face situations where you will have a choice to make—take a stand, defend a position, or seek a peaceful solution. Be vigilant and note situations where you can bring peace. Note where you can be a peacemaker in the face of a potential adversarial situation.

Fourth, allow small things to remain small and be quick to forgive. It is relatively easy to catch others doing things that rankle us. We can easily catch people making hasty judgments, accusing us falsely (or correctly), essentially picking a fight. But, as has been aptly said, “You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.”

Finally, notice what others are doing right. Be quick to thank others for what they are doing. Gratitude and grace are strong antidotes to conflict and tension. Show appreciation for the niceties done for you. Bring goodwill to every situation in which you are involved.

In summary, a great scripture to live by are the words offered by the Apostle Paul: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

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Publication date: July 1, 2014