What would happen if you assumed the best about others? What if your opinions and facts were put on the back burner for a time, so you could gain understanding of a person or situation before you acted or spoke in a situation? The best way to pursue peace on a daily basis is by constantly positioning (or repositioning) our hearts so that we put others ahead of ourselves.
God doesn’t ask us to do things that we’re incapable of doing. That would be cruel. When we don’t pursue peace, it’s not for lack of ability; it’s because we don’t want to do it. Simply said, WE CHOOSE not to pursue peace. However, we can choose to pursue peace instead because God says we can. It all starts with what I BELIEVE about someone.
If you start thinking of others as better than yourself, the pursuit of peace will get easier and your actions will follow your beliefs. What are signs that you are becoming a leader who pursues peace? Hopefully, you will find yourself doing the following eight peace-pursuing actions more often.
1. You believe the best about others.
To live in harmony with others, it is important to avoid jumping to conclusions. Assumption is the absolute lowest form of knowledge. Yet we do it all the time and often unconsciously. If you are pursuing peace, you will avoid passing judgment based on mere outward appearances. You’ll be slower to judge someone’s motives based only upon what you see or hear. Even if something stinky might be going on, treat people with dignity and respect, allowing them the liberty to hold divergent views or give them the space to explain themselves.
2. You are willing to risk the relationship.
Often our society encourages individualism to the point that it is easy to develop an apathetic attitude toward others. It’s a “live-and-let-live” worldly attitude. In pursuit of peace, you will love God and the other person enough to pursue peace, even if it means risking the relationship. If you are a peace-pursuing leader, you will not have indifference toward others. You will act in love and courage, going humbly and frankly to a friend and asking for an explanation, even if what they did seems indefensible.
3. You know how to apologize.
Rarely is the strain in a relationship as one-sided as we want to believe. If you are pursuing peace, you will ask yourself, “How have I contributed to this conflict?” There is great power in an apology. Sometimes saying “This was my mistake. I’m sorry” can take a load off our backs, or turn around a situation altogether, allowing us to start over. The bottom line is this: When tension rises in relationships, act and speak in love.
4. You listen well.
James writes, “…be quick to listen…” (James 1:19). Have you ever had an argument all ready to go, so that you were waiting for the other person to stop talking so you could set them straight? This is a violation of this Word of the Lord from James. If you are a leader who pursues peace, you will be known for being quick to listen, not speak. To truly listen is to gain understanding. Solomon wrote, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold” (Prov. 3:13-14). Gaining an understanding can be life-saving. My mom has a plaque on her wall that teaches us: “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” It’s important that we take the time to understand others as we choose to live in peace with all men.
5. You speak thoughtfully.
James also writes that we should be “slow to speak” (James 1:19). This means we take into consideration the other person’s condition or circumstances before we respond. It’s possible to say the right thing, but to say it at the wrong time. It’s also possible to say the right thing in the wrong way. If you are pursuing peace, you will be seen as one who thinks before speaking and chooses their words wisely. You will be known as a person whose words improve relationships and situations, rather than a person out to prove a point. Words can turn a good situation into a disaster in seconds. Wisdom means not always saying every word that comes to mind. Reflect on your thoughts and edit your words. When said, they can’t be easily taken back. Don’t try to put out a fire using gasoline. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop talking.
6. You keep emotions in check.
By now you’ve figured out there is a James 1:19-20 theme going on in the middle of these peace-pursuing actions. If you are a leader who pursues peace, you will be “slow to anger,” as James says. When anger takes over the only thing we can think about is getting what we want. T hat is why James tells us that rarely does our anger lead to the righteousness of God. Generally, we do not make good decisions when we’re angry because we usually do not care about the consequences of our decisions at that moment. I don’t know about you, but the angrier I become, the more convinced I am that I can read what’s going on in somebody else’s mind. And I can’t.
7. You live in reverse when needed.
I’ve often been guilty of living in reverse. Too many times the first step we take is to turn up the heat and bake our attitudes and thoughts for a while. If you mess up and don’t listen, speak too quickly and angrily, put it in reverse. Peace-pursuing leaders are humble enough to ask for a redo. Putting others first and the pursuit of peace is not natural. Just look at two toddlers trying to play side by side. Parents say, “We need to share with our friends” and “We don’t hit our friends” ad nauseam until kids get it.
8. You choose gentleness.
Gentleness is a choice, not a feeling. Monumental leaders are not ruled by emotion, but by the Word of God. We do what’s right, not what feels good. If you are praying for reconciliation, unity, and a sense of oneness, understand that communication must take place, and it must be done in a spirit of gentleness. If you are a person who has been wrongly accused, you would do well to remember the wise counsel of Solomon in Proverbs 15:11: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“…seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14b
These peace-pursuing actions are things each of us desires from others and they cost us nothing to give. Peace isn’t something you will stumble upon and it can’t forced; it’s something you intentionally seek and pursue. Will you always achieve peace? No. Yet, pursuing peace is like God giving you a gift because in the pursuit of peace He brings you peace of mind and you may find peace with those you never believed possible.
Here are some questions to help you in the pursuit of peace…take time for deep thought. Maybe when you’re with a friend over coffee or lunch have a engaging conversation using these questions as a guide. Ask the question and then just listen.
Do you believe others were created by God?
If so, how do your thoughts, actions, and habits show evidence of that belief?
Are you praying for others? How has the discipline of prayer shaped your walk with God and others? Journal about what you have learned from investing in relationships.
Are you gentle with others? How does this affect your leadership abilities?
To read more about Pursuing Peace click here: https://dan holland2819.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/pursuing-peace/