Leading people is one of the most amazing things that you can do. If you feel you were created to lead, and people are actually following you, you are one of the lucky ones who actually feels fulfilled in that position.
Leaders come in a variety of shapes and sizes, just as people do. You might find yourself following someone who is passive aggressive, or you might find yourself being a leader who is passive aggressive. Your leader might be someone who rallies people to their vision, or maybe they are someone who constantly sets the example through actions and culture.
The leadership circuit consists of networks, books, conferences, podcasts, coaching and more, to help people be a better leader. In fact, we provide our own micro-consulting services at everything.church for ministry leaders. Because we understand everyone wants to be a better leader and we believe we can help people to do that.
When people are studying leadership, sometimes they are encouraged to embrace their own leadership proclivities and sometimes they are being encouraged to try something that worked for someone else. But no matter what people lean into, when the rubber meets the road, everyone has to lead for themselves based on who they are and the things they’ve added to themselves along the way.
There is no time more challenging to demonstrate your ability to lead than when conflict arises. As Christians this is even more difficult, because Jesus basically calls us to be awesome. He calls us to respond with firmness AND humility AND love AND peace, and all those things are supposed to happen simultaneously. Leaders are supposed to pursue peace while still leading and without backing down, this is complicated stuff.
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. The reason I’m writing about leadership today is because nothing reveals truth about what kind of leader you are better than conflict. Conflict even reveals truth about what kind of person you are. And it definitely reveals truth about whether or not, in conflict, you pursue peace.
my own conflict
I was recently faced with my own bout of conflict. And in the moment I chose peace and I was super proud of myself. I didn’t get angry or defensive, and I “smoothed everything right over”. But as the day passed into the next morning, I realized that while yes, I did choose peace, I had chosen to be a peacekeeper instead of a peacemaker.
Which IS still peace, but it’s not the peace that Jesus calls us too, and it’s not the kind of peace that a leader should exercise. If you looked at the definitions between peacekeeping and peacemaking you might barely notice a difference because by definition there barely is one. It’s all peace, right?
Yet no matter how subtle the difference, there is one. Peacekeeping is about keeping peace at all costs, without addressing the issues. It often means we are giving people answers they want to hear. By comparison, peacemaking is about pursuing peace that’s real. Are we really ok? Why are we not ok? Even if it requires letting people go or recognizing that you’ve mismanaged your assets. It’s asking yourself what is really true?
here are some of the main differences in peacekeeping and peacemaking
Faking: requires nothing except for you to pretend everything is okay
Fast: so things can go back to “normal” quickly
All Talk: say the right thing
Unreliable: are things really okay?
Immature: a lot of people can keep peace, even children
Making: requires action to actually solve a problem
Slow: requires parties to come together and find unity even in their differences
All Belief: believe the right thing
Consistent: confidence in the work you’ve done
Mature: not a lot of people are willing to make peace, it requires humility and hard work
Peace and the pursuit of peace can be seen throughout the entire Bible, more obviously throughout the Jewish tradition. They believed if there was peace (personally and nationally), then you must be right with God. Which is an easy way to assume that peace will come to you without work.
however, that is not the case
Pastor John MacArthur says,
Peace is a creative force producing goodness and well being. It is not just the absence of something, it is the presence of something. It is not the absence of conflict, it is the presence of aggressive goodness. Peacemaking doesn’t create a vacuum. It isn’t just the absence of conflict and the presence of nothing. It isn’t just a cold war. It isn’t just a truce…the biblical kind of peace is the peace that exists after the struggle has been resolved.
In that moment I mentioned earlier, I realized I had kept the peace, but at what cost? At the cost of being genuine, at the cost of being myself, at the cost of being the person God created me to be. Thinking about the situation in hindsight, I was ashamed that I had been immature and taken the easy route. But I can tell you if the situation came up again, it would take a lot of tenacity to commit to peacemaking rather than just keeping the peace. But next time I will be ready!
As a parent of young children, I am in this situation all the time. Do I let a naughty behavior of my young child go by without attention or do I address the issue?
Recently, my son dropped his lollipop on the floor, and a little edge cracked off. He lost it. Full on master tantrum, kicking, screaming, sweating, the whole nine yards. He wanted a new lollipop, and that definitely wasn’t happening. I was trying to calm him and talk about how good the lollipop still was. I was trying to distract him and basically keep the peace. But it wasn’t working, and then I realized not only is this not working, but he’s also not learning a lesson here.
So, I took the lollipop from his fit filled hand and tossed it out into the trees and there were tears. If possible there were more tears than before, but there was also a lesson about how we don’t throw fits to get our way, followed by reconciliation that problems are solved by addressing them calmly.
My mother used to use a phrase quite frequently while growing up. She used to say, “choose your battles”, and it’s a good and wise thought. But sometimes we assume when we choose the battle it automatically means war. But sometimes when we choose the battle, we mean peace. The kind of peace we fight for, which is still a lot of work, but it’s the kind of work that’s honest and can change lives, because it involves action, without war.
so, how can you be a peacemaker?
1) Actively lead people to truth
2) Know that conflict is necessary
3) Respond in love
It’s not easy to be a peacemaker, but it’s worth it when your staff and volunteers know that they can come to you honestly and work through things, when people know that even if peacemaking leads to separation, it’s because it’s best.
Jesus was prophesied in Isaiah to be the “Prince of Peace”, the Israelites and all humanity were desperate for such a thing. When Jesus came as a radical, it wasn’t the type of peace they were expecting, but he brought the kind of peace that changes lives and hearts and points people to God.
Chief Creative Officer
Stacia has over a decade of ministry experience, with the majority of that time leading next generation change. She has experience leading almost one hundred volunteers, and developing curriculum for kids and students. Stacia has a B.S. in Church Ministries and Biblical Studies, as well as experience educating in an elementary public school environment. She is also immensely creative and accomplished in teaching children about the wonder of God.