Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. ~ Romans 12:18 (NLT)
Prior to changing careers to ministry, I worked in the corporate world as a manager. I liked a lot of the aspects to that job. I got to work with some incredible people. I got to cast the vision of what things could be. I got to think creatively to solve issues. The pay wasn’t bad either. The one aspect that often times caused me to not enjoy my job was when I had to interact with the public – especially the public who were upset about something my organization had done to them (or at least they thought we’d done to them) which they didn’t particularly appreciate. I remember one lady standing three inches from me yelling about how unfairly she was being treated. She put her finger in my chest for added affect. What was she yelling about? That we were charging her one dollar to rent a DVD. It was far too much for her sensitive soul to bear. So, she decided she needed to see the manager and let fly with her wrath. I let her yell at me for a minute or two then calmly asked if I could now speak so we can reach an understanding. I didn’t raise my voice. I spoke slowly and calmly. Eventually, we were able to have a conversation and I helped her understand that the tiny fee we charged didn’t even cover the cost for us to provide the service, but still helped to provide some funding to continue the ability to rent DVDs to customers. She didn’t like it, but she eventually understood. She rented her DVD and left without further incident.
The only reason I was able to have a conversation with her was because I had been trained in conflict management. Rule number one of that system is that you can’t control what people will say to you. You can only control how you react to it. Rule number two is to never lose your cool. Create an atmosphere where peace can happen.
Oddly enough, this same advice is completely biblical. The apostle Paul stated, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” In other words, just because someone is being mean and nasty to you doesn’t mean you have to respond in kind. Instead, create an atmosphere where peace can happen. Seek dialog over fights. Choose calmness rather than screaming. Rise above the pettiness and go for maturity. As Christians we are called to seek peace, not conflict. I pray that we, as the body of Christ, can remember this always.