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Friday, June 2, 2017

Peace-maker or Peace-taker?

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. 
Are you a peace-maker, or a peace-taker? That may be a tough question to answer truthfully, but it can open the doors to some pretty significant growth in your life either way! To realize one is on the end of the spectrum where there is more strife stirred up when you are present than there is peace and agreement may come as a hard truth to swallow, but it can also create a sense of "urgency" in us to see that things change in us so we are no longer that way.
If you have ever been around someone who just shuts down the conversation and creativity of a group as soon as they begin to speak themselves, then you know how much this "peace-taking" practice affects everyone. It becomes common knowledge that it is that person's way or the highway - no one wants to go "up against" that person's opinion of the way something should be done simply because it drains them of a significant amount of precious energy to do so.
Peace-takers are more prevalent than we might first want to admit. The tendency of someone to continually challenge others, dominating the conversations with their ideas over those of the others, or to act as a resistor to everything that doesn't conform to one's own agenda is very disheartening to those who seek consensus in a group, or who want to try things a new way in order to improve something they each have to deal with in some manner. After a while, people stop interacting with the peace-takers simply because it is easier to "give in" than it is to challenge them.
What happens when the peace-takers outnumber or outweigh the opinions of the others in the group? The group is no longer challenged to perform at their best. There is a "shutting down" of the creativity which can frequently be capitalized upon when the group brainstorms an idea with all the energy that comes from "feeding off" of another's basic idea until you have developed something much more robust. In a home, one family member may domineer over others - making the home a very uncomfortable place when they are around. In a work environment, teams may become "stalled" or "lack momentum". In our communities, groups may align with the strategies of these domineering forces, while completely overlooking the needs and desires of those who lack their own "voice".
God's aim is for us to be peace-makers. This means we sometimes have to be challenged to consider the ideas of another over our own. It might also mean we have to confront the peace-takers we are dealing with in order to let them know we aren't going to tolerate that behavior in our group interactions any longer. While this may be uncomfortable for us, it is almost always the best means by which we can grow as a "team" in our homes, work or community environments. We have an obligation to bring peace wherever we are - it is what God's plan for us is as his kids. 
We are to be ministers of reconciliation - and that means we work toward peace. As difficult as this may be at times, the "peace" we are filled with as his kids will impact the "peace-takers" if we are continually planting and watering seeds of peace in every interaction we have with these individuals. Eventually they will either recognize they are wrong and work together to make things better within the group, or they will move on. Either way, those who continue to plant and water seeds of peace are doing exactly what God asks and that is a good place for us to be!  Just sayin!