“In the way we regard our children, our spouses, neighbors, colleagues, and strangers, we choose to see others either as people like ourselves or as objects.They either count like we do or they don't. In the former case we regard them as we regard ourselves, we say our hearts are at peace toward them. In the latter case, since we systematically view them as inferior, we say our hearts are at war.”
One of my resolutions for the new year is to reread some of the excellent material on conflict resolution that has come out of the Arbinger Institute. Few things are more essential to ministry than becoming adept at peace-making. When Jesus chose this as one of the nine beatitudes (Matthew 5:9), he was prioritizing the relational mechanics of having our hearts at peace.
Central to both the Gospel and the conflict resolution process from Arbinger, is an awareness of how easily we all fall into objectifying others. Our hearts become at war with those who don’t agree with the changes we want to bring to the church. We objectify them as “well intentioned dragons” or “old fuddy-duddies.” We fail to treat them as people like ourselves. We attribute to them motivations that are inferior to ours. We complain that they don’t love the church the way we do. Our hearts are no longer at peace, because Jesus is no longer guiding our words and actions. Lord, help us to value compassion above our own need to be right.