Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James1:2-4
In my other profession as a school administrator, I am faced with regular conflict. Part of my job is to address that conflict and find resolution, whether with students, parents, staff, or community. In my morning prayer I always include this request, “Lord, may your peace fall fresh in this school today.” Perhaps you have a similar prayer for your daily destination.
But the reality is that sometime folks don’t want anything to do with God’s peace, or any other. They bring their hurt and pain, fear and frustration, pride and selfishness with them…as do I. We all have bad days sometimes. Some are even mired in bad weeks, years, and lives. I encounter many folks that truly live lives of hardship, whether due to their own choices, circumstances beyond their control, or both. The hardships of one person often manifests in conflict and negativity that is projected onto others who are in their path. One of the great challenges of leadership is maintaining a positive and productive response when handling such encounters.
The test, I believe, is how we handle conflict with those that are already conflicted. If I placed all my hope in that daily prayer, I would find myself ill-equipped to deal with those who are peace-adverse. Thus, I have begun to also pray this, “Lord, and if there be those that reject peace, equip me as your instrument to help resolve the conflict that ensues.”
I believe praying in this way captures the essence of James 1:2-4. Conflict will come because we live in a conflicted world with conflicted people. How we handle those times when conflict reaches us is a great opportunity to build our faith. To let the peace of Christ keep us calm so that we are receptive to wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit. To let love and grace and mercy temper our hurt and anger and cry for justice.
The next time you face conflict, take the time to pray. Ask for the Spirit to reign within so that you respond in the likeness of Christ and not react in the sinfulness of Adam. And as we build our faith, may we also become the Light shining in darkness, witnessing to His glory. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. For the journey ahead is always ripe with opportunity to grow as His people and His church.
-- Pastor Justin
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