By Mark Verkler

How do I become a peacemaker in conflict? What are the elements that make that up? The first thing to know is the difference between a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. The difference in one word is integrity. The definition of a peacekeeper is someone who really wants peace, but they’re willing to compromise integrity, apologize for things that they didn’t do, beg, plead, enable bad behavior, etc.

A peacemaker, which we’re looking at as the wholesome way to go after peace, is someone who really wants peace and is proactive about it, but they will not compromise integrity. They won’t give in to manipulation or intimidation. Don’t be deceived about what a peacemaker is. A peacemaker doesn’t avoid conflict, but actually brings the spirit of God into the conflict. That’s what we’re looking to do. In James 1:19 and 20, it says, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. We find out some key elements to overcoming conflict are being quick to hear, slow to speak, and keeping your anger under control. Don’t let anger get the best of you.

Remember, the Bible says, be angry, and yet don’t sin in your anger. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. So we could sin by suppressing anger (because the Bible says we need to recognize injustice), we could sin by being enraged, and letting our anger get out of control, or we could send by being passive-aggressive. God wants us to be assertive in our anger and He wants us to control our anger. In Matthew 5:25 (which is a verse I reference a lot in counseling) it says, agree with your adversary quickly while you’re on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer and you be thrown into prison.

One of the primary things to focus on when we’re trying to be a peacemaker is to look for the things we can agree on with the other person. What are the things that we can agree on?  The first thing I need to do is not be defensive, but to own my side. That’s one of the key elements of being a peacemaker. Now in Proverbs 18:17, we have an important point from the Bible we can easily miss. A lot of times, we are going after the integrity of being a peacemaker. There are two sides to every story. “The first one to speak sounds true, until you hear the other side, and they set the record straight.”

There is another Proverb that says, “It’s foolish to try to decide a matter when you’ve only heard one side.”  So we would say you’ve got a bad judge if he only hears one side of the story. We need to hear both sides. So these are a few elements to becoming a peacemaker, but let’s talk about a few more elements.

  • Slow down
  • Hear both sides
  • Pray and ask God for wisdom and revelation

I do that consistently in my counseling, and I thank God for giving me wisdom because He said in James one that if we ask for wisdom, He will give it to us. Bring scripture to bear that’s crystal clear, not obscure or confusing. Remember that the two most important attributes of a peacemaker are love and humility. Galatians chapter six says, “Dear brothers and sisters if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

I’ll never forget, I went on a crisis call once early in my career with an older, more experienced pastor and counselor. He just asked me to come along to support him, I really wasn’t leading the way. The crisis was a sharp conflict between a husband and wife, and when we came in, I was expecting that the sparks were going to fly. The pastor was so gentle and he listened attentively to both sides. He brought in Scripture, he brought in prayer, and it was just like this settling down of the crisis and it was beautiful to watch. I’ve really tried to model that since then. One of the things that I want you to consider as an essential part of being a peacemaker is to look out in your own heart for any elements of manipulation or intimidation that you might have. You have to come out of agreement with that and repent of that. We also need to look for that in the conflict in general from any form or from any place.

I want to finish with Matthew chapter 11, verses 28, to 31 of a really beautiful passage, in a rare place where Jesus describes himself. He says, “Are you weary carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me, and I will refresh your life. For I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine, learn my ways, and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You’ll find refreshment and rest in Me, for all that I require of you will be pleasant, and easy to bear.”  I hope this has been a blessing to get a little bit of an overview of how to become a peacemaker.

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