Peacemaking is a tough job. If the peacemaker does it right, the two former enemies will get along. There is also the strong probability that the peacemaker will be the one getting hurt.
I doubt any of the three of us remember what my siblings were fighting over. I do remember the results. I tried, for the entire long walk to school to get them to stop. When we finally got to blows, we were right in front of the school. I got in the middle, trying to keep them from hitting each other and got slugged by both of them instead.
That tactic was obviously not the best one, at least for me. This is even more true because all the principal saw was fists flying and the three of us. I got the same punishment, even though I did not hit anyone and was not fighting.
Over the years, I’ve had a chance to watch and/or participate in several disputes. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes I wasn’t. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned (usually the hard way).
A long time ago, someone told me that true peacemaking meant that everyone at the table had to give up something they wanted and that no one walked from the table happy. That has been my experience in life.
There are certain criteria to being the kind of peacemaker Jesus mentioned. Without the grace of God, they are hard do.
True Peace: If any of the fighting parties does not want peace, there won’t be any. The adversaries may agree at the table, but will not employ the agreed on terms once they’ve walked away.
Agendas: Everyone has certain things they want, including someone acting as peacemaker. It’s important to set aside those of a personal nature. Otherwise, the bias will lean towards one side against the other.
Prayer: Finding the right words at the right time is difficult. Jesus said not to worry about what to say when asked, because the Holy Spirit would provide the words. It’s not a bad idea to ask for that when trying to settle a disagreement.
Listen: The parties may not be that far apart on many issues. They aren’t wording them the same, particularly if different languages are involved. By listening and rephrasing what each party says, it may not be so difficult to resolve the dispute.
Small Concessions: If each party feels that the other has “given in” enough, peace is easier to achieve. It is important that these *are* small concessions. The larger concessions should be easier to agree to, but demanding the whole thing at once is a bad idea.
One last thing to remember: if you set yourself up as the peacemaker, be prepared to get hit. It happens on the schoolyard and it could happen in the boardroom or other area chaos reigns.