When we think about leadership, we don’t always think about peaceful leaders. But if you’ve ever observed a skillful and thoughtful leader, you know their relationships are marked by peacefulness. I’m not suggesting that these leaders don’t deal with conflict or disputes; I’m just highlighting the fact that they know how to relate with others in a peaceful and effective manner. In other words, they don’t leave a wake of poor habits and relational destruction behind them.
Paul’s instructions in Romans 12 are very clear, and his words apply to Christians, in general. I contend that this is even more important if you are in a position of leadership, because we have the opportunity to model peaceful, thoughtful, and generous leadership for those we serve. Paul writes this, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Rom 12:18).
If you are primarily concerned with proving yourself or promoting yourself, enjoying peaceful relationships with the people you lead will be difficult to achieve. Let me share a story with you.
“What do you have to prove, J?”
These are the words my friend asked me one afternoon as I told him about a heated disagreement I had with the front-desk receptionist at the local recreational pool. Although this happened years ago, his question has stuck with me ever since. I don’t even remember the disagreement with the receptionist, but I do remember my friend’s thoughtful and piercing question.
That question pops up in my mind from time to time, and I am ever mindful of the fact that self-serving justifications are like second-nature to me. As leaders, we tend towards statements like, ‘He (or she) just doesn’t get it’ or ‘They can’t do that to me.’
It’s quite easy to shift all of the blame upon the other person, regardless of what actually happened.
What do you have to prove?
Nothing. Nothing at all. Learning to live at peace with others requires that I let go of any attempts to prove myself to them. Experiencing genuine peace with others is possible because Christ has come to secure your peace with God. And now, the peace of Christ is operating in us because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. So, if you want to grow as a leader, you need to understand that good leaders are peaceful leaders.
Consider the following realities:
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So, I do not have to prove my worth to those I live with, work with, or spend time with. I am free to add value to their lives and genuinely serve them.
- I will make mistakes. So, I do not have to lie about it, deny it, or hide it from others. The grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient for me.
- At some point, I will hurt others with my words or through my actions. So, I am not capable of loving others perfectly. I will need to ask for forgiveness and apologize in specific ways.
- I am free to celebrate the accomplishments of others. So, I do not have to measure myself against the success of other people.
- I can step into conflict with an eye toward reconciliation. With the help of the Spirit, I can handle conflict humbly, maturely, and responsibly.
Christ is the incarnate expression of God making peace with his people. And, as leaders, we now have the great privilege of helping others experience this peace as we live in relationship with them.
Go and embody this peace with others!