Today we challenge your view of what makes a person a peacemaker. We’re not talking about the person that avoids conflict or doesn’t “rock the boat”. We are talking about the person who RESOLVES conflict through healthy communication and interactions.
Each week for the last several weeks we have focused on making “A Better New Year’s Resolution.” Instead of making diet and fitness goals, we are looking to improve our character. Each episode is about developing a character trait. This week’s episode is about becoming a peacemaker.
Being a peacemaker is not an easy thing. This person does not stir up fights. They have a lot of courage.
1.) Not the person who is passive & doesn’t rock the boat.
This is someone who addresses conflict. They are very thoughtful. When they speak, they are intentional. Ravi Zacharias, a leader in apologetics, met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do some peace talks.
He had the opportunity to meet with an Israeli leader and a Palestinian leader. Both of the leaders had lost children to terrorism and fighting that had occurred due to the conflicts.
He aligned with the both of them by saying, “It must be difficult to lose a child. You have sacrificed your child. What pain you must be going through.” In doing so, he showed them that he was trying to understand them both.
In the middle of this discussion, he presented the Gospel. He talked about God the father and how He sacrificed His son. He was able to use this opportunity to present the Gospel.
Most people would cower in a situation where they are between two warring foes, not Ravi Zacharias. He was able to communicate THROUGH the pain that both fathers were feeling. It takes a lot of courage. Be sure to check out our BRAVE episode if you’d like some extra help on mustering up your courage.
2.) They work to find a solution which means compromise or setting healthy boundaries.
We are marriage therapists, we often see couples stuck in their ways. Once they have been stuck for a while, hearts begin to harden.
Areas such as household duties and parenting are common problem areas for hardened hearts to develop. An “I’m right, you’re wrong attitude” begins to emerge and they begin to operate out of that as a default mode.
Sometimes even pet peeves can grow into a hardened heart. Your heart hardens onto these opinions and it becomes extremely difficult to compromise.
It is painful to break these ideals. A peacemaker is able to adjust. They are flexible.
3.) They have empathy.
A peacemaker wants what is best for all involved. They are able to see how others think and feel.
Being a peacemaker is not being passive, however. A peacemaker is not someone who just keeps peace by postponing conflict.
Postponing conflict is like putting anger in a pressure cooker. Being passive is like participating in building a bomb. Vincent calls it being an “emotional bomb-builder.”
Weeks, months, years pass and the anger errupts, and it is much worse than it needed to be if had been acknowledged in the first place. If you need some pointers on addressing the “elephant in the room” be sure to check out our episode where we interview Jill Martin.
4.) They resolve conflict.
Resolving conflict requires several different components.
A peacemaker is able to gauge the atmosphere and to set the atmosphere. They can set the tone, or help to set the tone. They know when to address a problem.
To help you learn how to gauge the atmosphere, pay attention to your five senses. For instance, if everyone is cramped into a hot, crowded car, it’s not best to try to bring up a problem.
Also beware of distractions. If someone is hungry, it is loud, the tv is on, the kids can hear, etc. it’s not a good time to try to bring up a contentious issue. A peacemaker makes or finds an appropriate atmophere.
Focus on the Problem Not the Person
A peacemaker is able to extract the problem from the persons involved. They do not identify the other person as the problem. They do not personalize the situation.
Be Honest & Direct While Using Tact
A peacemaker may plan out what they are about to say—scripting it. Organizing your thoughts is helpful to make things come out in a healthy way.
Try sandwiching it. Use positives before getting to the actual issue. Do things to align yourself with the other person. Being able to empathize, using feeling words, goes a long way.
Examples may include “That must have really hurt when…” or “You must have felt really frustrated when…” Another important comment to make is “I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.”
An example of using the “sandwich technique” would be: “I really appreciated it when you helped Tommy with his science project, but it upset me when you told mom what I told you about the problems my wife and I are having. When I told you this in confidence, it really upset me. I didn’t want mom to know. It hurt my trust. I value our relationship. I want it to be healthy. I needed to address this with you so I wouldn’t hold resentment towards you. I would want you to tell me if I’ve done something to hurt you, as well.” Notice how the peacemaker ends on a positive note.
In conflict, you need to show the other person that you understand them. Don’t tell them, “I understand.” SHOW them you understand. This means using emotion words, for example: “it must have hurt to…”
This helps you to connect to the other person. It deepens the communication and connection. They will know that you understand them. It helps the peacemaker come up with a concrete plan. You’re able to work towards boundaries.
Peacemaking is not a one time deal. It is a process of forgiving and leaving the door open for more dialogue in the future. It may mean expressing a boundary, such as “next time you bring up the problem, I’ll say ‘I don’t want to hear that…it’s not appropriate.’” Be clear and concise, and follow through.
Being a peacemaker is not a common quality. We hope that you have found today’s episode helpful in working on conflict resolution in your relationships so that you can become a healthy peacemaker!
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9