We all experience conflict at work. Sometimes workplace conflict makes us think that work is a hostile place for our Christian faith or values. But in reality, the Christian faith is superbly capable of helping us bring good results out of the conflict that inevitably arises at work. It’s as if Jesus has gone ahead of us into our workplaces, standing ready to bring reconciliation and transformation in the place we spend most of our waking hours.
It begins with Jesus’ words “Blessed are the peacemakers.” When we think of “peace” we tend to think only of stability, tranquility, the absence of conflict. But the Hebrew word for peace, shalom, means life flourishing in community. Shalom is far more than absence of war and conflict. It draws together ideas of justice and righteousness. Shalom is a thriving fullness of life as it ought to be: whole, healthy and balanced.
Peacemaking, therefore, means engaging in conflict in in ways that resolve underlying disagreements while actually strengthening our relationships. It means treating people with justice and respect, even while we’re in conflict with them. It definitely does not mean ignoring conflict. “Keeping the peace” by evading issues at the office can result in a false peace: difficult issues go undiscussed, arguments linger unsettled, the mission of the organization suffers. Working honestly with our co-workers through disappointment, misunderstandings and anger restores relationships.
Our faith helps us be open to working through conflict because Jesus is our model. God sent his only Son to reconcile us to himself by means of a cross. That’s how important God thinks it is to do the hard work of restoring relationships.
Watch this short video about the call to work toward shalom.
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of peace I have with you through Christ. Through you may my relationships become more peaceful and healthy. As a recipient of your peace, I have been called to be a peacemaker. Help me to embrace this calling. Give me eyes to see, not only obvious conflict, but also that which lies beneath the surface. May I use every opportunity you put before me to work for genuine peace. Amen.