My wife and I were out to dinner at a fairly nice restaurant. You know, the ones with table cloths and a formal table setting, wait staff all dressed up, elegant atmosphere with soft music playing, and an elaborate presentation at each course of the meal. Well, we were enjoying this wonderful experience when a few tables over there seemed to be something going on. The customer had flagged down a waiter and with a bit of frustration and angry tones scolded him about something. The waiter was calm and seemed to offer apologies and a solution. The offer did not seem to bring peace but only fueled the customer’s criticism. Soon more waiters and, I believe, a chef came over. The customer got even more animated. The people accompanying this customer seemed embarrassed. A manager showed up and still this guy would not let it go.
We went on to enjoy our meal and fun time of being together and enjoying our evening. Though I don’t know all the particulars and details of that uncomfortable scene, I do know there are peaceful ways to handle conflict and difficult situations. I was amazed at how each of the staff of that restaurant were polite, calm, accommodating, and willing to help this person enjoy his experience and meal. They had been trained well to handle the unfortunate reality that there are high conflict people out there. You may even know a few.
According to Bill Eddy, in his book, “It’s Your Fault: 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything,” these high conflict people are not only drawn to conflict, but “conflict is part of who they are. It’s a life-long personality pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting…avoiding taking responsibility for their problems…they…argue against feedback…try to get others to agree with their rigid points of view…negative emotions dominate their thinking…and have… difficulty empathizing with others” (pages15-16). In addition, Mr. Eddy has seen a rise in people taking on this behavior.
So what do we do? Mr. Eddy gives some great advice, but so does the Bible.
Romans 12:16-18 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
It’s the decision to not always seek to get our way, but in humility care about others around us, regardless of the circumstances.
Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The wording in this Bible verse means to actually purpose to run after peace, to do all we can to create peace, not conflict. It is choosing to love others, being thoughtful of them.
Philippians 2:3-4 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
This love for others creates peace.
1 Peter 4:8-9 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
That word hospitality means to be kind even to strangers.
There is way too much conflict in our world today and, unfortunately, this seems to breed more high conflict people. But let’s not join in. Let’s pursue, run after peace, for peace matters. Sure, conflict is part of life, but even in that we can find a peaceful, loving way to work together to find a good solution. Will you? I wonder how different that scene would have been if that customer would have sought peace.
Church can be a great place to learn how to be more peaceful and experience God’s peace. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . It would be great to have you with us.
Seeking peace with others along with you,