What a man does in life becomes history, but what he puts into motion becomes his legacy – Paul Cole
Here’s a question for you, “Are you creating history or making a movement?”
The word movement comes from the latin movere which means to move or set in motion. It speaks of something that is bigger and will probably take a few generations to see it’s fruition. Nevertheless, some leaders give themselves to such tasks with all their might. They care not who gets the credit, their only goal is to initiate it knowing that they may never see it to completion. They are moved by the prospect of changing the world for the better. The irony is that nobody creates a movement, they simply just lay the groundwork for one.
Here are some of the elements you will find in that groundwork that are vital in creating movements.
Movements are not about self-interest but are about what is right and wrong. Self-interest does not allow for long term thinking because it is only motivated by that which the leader can control or by what gives them credit. Some leaders are driven by small tasks they can complete in their life time in order to get the credit and accolades that short term achievements produce.
Movements always begin with the minorities. It is not the size of group that determines movements but it’s the commitment of the few involved. All you need is a committed and motivated minority in order to begin. When God wants to start a movement he always begins with a small minority or someone who has been discarded or rejected by society–someone that fits into the misfit category but possess the raw material of a nation’s future. The stone that the builders rejected becomes the cornerstone of a new world.
Movements requires action not discussions. It is not dialogue that creates movement, but actions that creates a new dialogue. That new dialogue is very distinct and carries within it the seeds of the new movement. Dialogue by itself tends to be circular in nature and carries no potency to break through the old thinking; the only way to break through from the old is to take a new action.
Movements are visionary.They offer society a desired future. People are attracted by the prospect of a sudden and spectacular change in their condition of life. Movement sees right through the present and imagines a new future. It is written that Jesus endured the cross and shame for the joy set before Him. His vision of the future was so magnificent that it helped him deal with the present sacrifice.
Movements are prophetic.They call people to higher standard of life. They call for justice and order and equality. They call us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. A prophetic vision believes despite of the evidence to the contrary. It does not succumb to the pabulum of emotional self pity or the arrogance of the self-made man. It calls us to higher standard, one that elevates us above the mundane and provokes us to live a transcendent life in the transient world.
In 2002 we started an organization called Glocal.net that focused on starting churches. It would change and morph to ultimately what we have become today – but it was a journey. We didn’t plan to start a network organization, we had just started a lot of churches and many of them wanted a way to gather and network. It quickly grew very large and far beyond my administrative ability and became several groups. I had no desire to start or run a “mini-denomination!” As a matter of fact, I did very little with GlocalNet for years. As a church, however, we kept on starting more churches and by default GlocalNet grew.I could see the value of all of us coming together – but our first response to the way we were relating was very western and industrial.We came together around three things we all did – and still do:(1) start churches, (2) work with the poor in our city, and (3) work in hard places in the world.This brought around all kinds of people from charismatic to reformed to Baptist and even a few Anglicans. We had so many stories. I knew God was doing something different, but I responded the only way I knew how — in an old western, task-driven, organizational wineskins.
As I began to travel the world I had the extraordinary opportunity to come to know and learn from many global pastors who lead significant movements. We would call their what they’re a part of “church planting movements” (cpms), but most of them would not be familiar with that kind of language. These leaders taught me a new way of coming together as family.
This doesn’t mean that principles are not real or do not matter. The difference is that in the global church, they don’t start with principles, they start with people.Thepeople are first.You can go to many conferences now and hear someone lecture or speak of how to start a movement and what it takes: a catalytic leader, a winsome message, a complimentary team, multiple evangelist to promote the movement – and on and on and on.Inevitably, people without movements begin to use the language of movements to get people to join a movement that doesn’t exist.We are missing something.
What we are missing is the Biblical Concept of Family. The global pastors I’ve met do not talk about movements or networks. Instead, when they talk about the church, they speak of their family and of their spiritual sons and daughters.In many of these places around the world it’s impossible to have big meetings and gather thousands of people to hear your message.You can only grow through relationships. Here, we often join movements through hearing preachers preach about their networks or movements.A family requires a lifetime of relationships and a lifetime of relational work, not simply a staff and an organizational chart. This is much more than a language shift.
As I have worked with pastors over the years, I’ve discovered they join groups for the purpose of identity or mission.You can tell the identity groups because they have robust statements of beliefs, certain teachings, and doctrine you must agree on.Teaching, for them, is huge because it’s critical to make sure everyone is on the same page.With mission groups, story is the critical factor.This is so and so and this is what happened . . . God opened this door, etc.All organizations and tribes have a certain measure of doctrine and story but each will lean stronger in one way or the other.This distinction is important to know and understand because it will give you the ethos and direction and values of a particular network, tribe or organization.
But here is what I’ve learned.Most young pastors join a group because they are really looking for family.They don’t want organizational ladders or organizational stats – they want family and they need Fathers.This is very hard for us as Americans. Our history as a nation, our culture, our rugged (if not sinful) individualism makes family hard – but make no mistake about it – we all long for and need family.
Here’s something else that’s important to consider as a leader in this shift, people want to touch people, not worship a new king.I’m always amazed by how these global movement leaders are soaccessible to the people.They are not like American mega-church pastors at all.They are humble, they are normal, you couldn’t pick them out of the crowd.Often their clothes don’t match and they’re missing teeth!
Finally, a family has a certain DNA – ours is Kingdom/Disciple/Society/Church.We all share that same DNA.It’s in our blood. We believe Jesus is leader of the Kingdom and his teachings are foundational on the Kingdom.We define disciple as hear and obey.We believe the grid we engage is our society through domains in the public square.We believe the church isn’t just a worship service but a small group, a congregation, and a global church.We build our everything around those four strands.
When you start operating as family everything changes.I’m having more fun in ministry today than ever before because pretty much everything I do, I do it with young people alongside of me. I’m trying to raise up a family.I love working with world leaders at this stage in my life, but I don’t do it alone any more.I often take a young pastor beside me, mentoring them in diplomacy, protocol, culture, or whatever is necessary at that moment. From the credibility we’ve earned over our lives we gain far more access than we had when we were young which leads to many more opportunities.As we get older it is critical that we share our access and opportunities as we mentor young sons and daughters so when we’re gone the family and the ministry continue.
If you want to know what our family is like, you’re welcome to join us at our Family Gathering.
If you grew up in church, you heard many religious phrases that subconsciously shaped your thinking, such as “born again,” “decisions for Jesus,” or “joining the church.” One of these is is “called into the ministry,” a phrase which I now find highly misleading. I am convinced that God has called the entire body of Christ to ministry, nor just the few whose talents lead them to be pastors. Some followers of Christ are called to various specialized functions, but every one of us has a responsibility to edge with God’s work in the world. There is within each of us a longing, a deep inside that calls us to something unknown. Throughout our lives, we may get glimpses of it, and it draws us forward to an undefined goal. C.S. Lewis attempted to describe this longing when he first experienced it as a child:
‘It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation that came over me; Milton’s “enormous bliss” of Eden…comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?…Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased.’
For most of us, calling is something like this – a deep, private, personal longing that bring everything together in a single experience of great significance. God calls every one of us in many ways, often using these undefined longing we tend to ignore or pass over as mere feelings of the moment. Those who wish to follow God must learn to develop sensitivity to these moments, and when they come, to tune their ears to God for his call.
When you are seeking God’s call, your skill, vocation, and passion are critical. But undergirding all of this are four things that are essential to hearing God’s “full counsel” for your life.
1) The Importance of Prayer
Prayer is where it all starts. When our hearts are clean and our lives are an open book before God, He will often speak things in our heart that give us a sense of where he is leading us.
2) The Guidance of God’s Word
Scripture is indispensable. For most major decisions, God will often give me a verse or a particular passage of Scripture to meditate on.
3)The Council of Other People
Proverbs says that there is safety in the presence of many counselors (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6). This isn’t to say that God won’t call you to do something that goes against the counsel of other people. But a wise disciple of Christ will often seek counsel from people they know and love.
Finally, I frequently keep my eyes open for God’s mysterious work – those divine intersections. Sometimes God has place something on my heart, something I can’t let go of, but I have no ability to do anything about it. The next thing I knew there are people, resources, and situations emerging, beyond my control that are causing significant changes.
What is God calling you to do? Specifically, what is God calling you to do TODAY? Be obedient and let God fulfill the longings you have.
Discover more about unleashing vocational influence in the book:
The church by divine design is patently and functionally the family or household of God. Adam the first man was referred to in Luke’s genealogy as the son of God. If the church is the family of God then it should function as a family. Herein lies the present problems confronting the church. While the notion that the church is the family of God is generally accepted by most denominational tradition of Christendom its practical outworking is largely foreign to the bible. It has strayed from God’s divine intention and instead has developed into an institution of religion, encumbered by an excessive amount of regulations and practices. Consequently, since the church has abdicated it’s fundamental purpose the earth is plagued with dysfunction that can only be broken by a fresh inquiry into scriptures concerning the church’s essential structure and apostolic mission. We need to address the question of God’s Household and the need for apostolic fathers who will selflessly raise up sons of God to steward the Kingdom of God thereby establishing the sovereign rule of peace in creation. God’s desire is the strategic placement of mature sons into the influential places in the world so that the nations of this earth may be reconciled to Him resulting in peace and goodwill among men.
The first and major key that we must address is how we relate to each other.
A family is by nature an organism not an organization. It offers relationships instead of rules and regulations; connections instead of separation; community instead of conformity. God’s plan when He created the world was to extend His rule on this earth through families; through father and mother having sons and daughters, thereby filling the earth. Sin however came into the world and the results were broken and fractured relationships. However, God never abandoned His original plan and sent His Son, the second Adam to redeem, reconcile and restore us back to his original plan; the family of God. Jesus came to restore us back to the Father and to reconcile the family to each other. Fatherhood and family are the dominant themes of the New Testament. If we miss that we automatically end with systems to replace relationships.
The second key in a family is the issue of DNA. Families are built on a common DNA.
DNA informs the organism of its characteristics and helps shape it into that which resembles the family. Science tells us that the main role of DNA is the long-term storage of information. All cellular life exists and is replicated through DNA. However, organizations by nature tend to grow and multiply by maintaining structures, policies or belief system. However, a family grows and multiplies through life giving relationships in an environment of mutual love for each other; a common mission that flows through the blood stream not the corporate manual. Northwood Church gave birth to Glocalnet; a family of churches that is committed to building according to God’s blueprint; His Kingdom, disciples that hear and obey His voice, focused on the reconciliation of all things and discovering the church in all domains of society. Breaking out of the walls of church buildings and engaging with the public square; bringing the reality of the Kingdom of God to bear upon every domain of society. Relentlessly pursuing peace and reconciliation among all people in all places for all things. We are committed to building according to God’s original design; His blueprint not ours.
JOIN US AT THE 2017 GLOCALNET FAMILY GATHERING TO LEARN MORE!
Here we are in the middle or unprecedented hurricanes, earthquakes, nuclear threats, epidemics, & if that isn’t enough Elon Musk is predicting WWIII but not because of North Korea but because of artificial intelligence.I can promise you, in the next 5 years, some really good stuff is going to happen and some really bad stuff is going to happen.We all want the good stuff right?Right.But here’s the deal . . . and some of what I learned from 9-11.
You don’t get the good stuff without the bad stuff
9-11 was bad.It was horrible, shook us to our core, made us recognize our own vulnerability.I know right where I was when it happened.Ti had just come to live with our family as an exchange student.Because of our work in Vietnam and our ability to work with governments and domains I immediately got invitations to go to the world – but I kept refusing.Without 9-11, I never would have come to know Muslims as I do.Without 9-11 I doubt I’d be working with world leaders like I do.Without 9-11, I never would have understood or experienced the world at a deep level.Without 9-11, I never would have worked with other religions.Without 9-11 my theology would be shallow because I was used to answering “church” questions from Christians not “hard” questions for people of other religions.
God uses the least likely people to do his will
I’m often referred to an expert from many people on Islam and Muslims.I am not.The experts know I am not.I laugh about it.For me working with the Communist of Vietnam was hard enough.At least they were atheist – no competing version of God.I think God uses us because we are open to anything, don’t live by old boundaries and rules, and we believe anything is possible.We also keep learning because we know that we know so little.Curiosity drives the unpretentious to ask questions, explore things, and put things together – in unexpected ways.God also gets the glory because the novice knows they really are not gifted!
You will become friends with people who you thought were enemies
I was afraid of Muslims.I believed anything bad anyone said about Islam or Muslims.It was because I didn’t know any other Muslims and the media I listened to only focused on the crazy ones.Then something happened – I went to Afghanistan and began to work with the people and with rare exceptions they were all Muslims.I didn’t just work with any Muslims but the imams – some who had been trained by Mullah Omar.I came to know them.We laughed, prayed, shared sad and happy stories, and became friends.No, we didn’t agree on everything but we respected each other.I’m friends with many of them to this day.
Your best successes can be things you didn’t even know existed or planned on
I was going to grow up and be a global evangelist.I pictured myself being Billy Graham when I was a young teen-ager.I knew church work, but not peace-building.I knew preaching to Christians with a few lost and backslidden Baptists, but I never dreamed I’d share at Muslim events with tens of thousands where I’d be the only Christian.I wanted to live “on fire” for God, that was our language.I came to be obsessed with loving God and other people with love, not fire, driving me.Fire is about religious zeal – any person of any religion can do that.Love is about relationship – with God and others.To be a follower of Jesus, loving in the extreme is the radical, reckless way – demanded the Holy Spirit.You had to first overcome your fear or you would never have a conversation.I’m all over the U.S. and the world, often the only Christian being friends with people not of my faith.
I was with a world leader of a particular nation not long ago who’s very close to the head of his country.This man is very successful – a Christian but not of my tribe and he loves Jesus.He’s very successful in so many ways.I asked him, “Tell me, of all that you’ve done, what are you most proud of?”“Bob, that’s easy.I’m proudest of the fact that I have been born and live in a Muslim majority nation and as a Christian I am one of very few that God has placed to represent Jesus to my friends and family here.”Spoken like a true follower of Jesus!“Keep learning my friends”from the most exciting man in the world!
WANT TO HEAR MORE FROM BOB ROBERTS? CONSIDER ATTENDING THE GLOCALNET FAMILY GATHERING. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
Join us for an amazing time of worship, inspiration and learning at the 2017 GlocalNet Family Gathering. If you are a part of the family, a friend of the family or just curious about what our family is all about, you are invited to come be a part of this experience.
WHEN November 8-9, 2017
WHERE NorthWood Church — 1870 Rufe Snow Drive, Keller, Texas 76248
SCHEDULEBegins at 8:30 AM Wednesday the 8th & ends at 4:30 PM Thursday the 9th
WORSHIPWe will be led in worship by a Multi-ethnic, multi-church team.
** Special Hotel Pricing at Holiday Inn Express & Suites DFW West – Hurst, Texas 820 Thousand Oaks Dr, Hurst, TX 76054 (817) 427-1818
Most of my ministry I have lead by vision. We are headed somewhere. There is a future destination, a mission, a goal. It’s about accomplishing something great for God that we all do together. It’s hard, but it’s fun. Everybody gets excited about it.
We’re going to start a church. We’re going to engage a nation. We’re going to bless our city. We’re going to multiply churches. We’re going to reach out to a new people group. We’re going to make disciples. We start doing it, small successes turn into big successes. Everyone starts talking about it, everyone celebrates it, everyone wants to mimic it – you even wind up going to tell others how they can also “do it.”
This isn’t bad – it’s good. Without a sense of shared commitment and enthusiasm and excitement you aren’t going to start or accomplish anything. People have a shared sense of destiny programmed in them from God to make the world a better place. Innate within every follower of Jesus is a bent to glorify God and exalt him.
The biggest challenge to the leadership in this form of leadership is egotism, arrogance, and self-centeredness. You have to resist the temptation to believe your own press and what others say about you. Deep down we all know who we are, but in our desire to be more than we are – humanly speaking – we can succumb to glorifying ourselves.
The past six years, I’ve discovered another form of leadership – I call it leadership by obedience. It’s not something you seek or even want. It’s hard. It isn’t something new, it’s something as old as creation. It doesn’t start with a dream of what can be but is the gradual realization that something is wrong, we’ve somehow gotten off the path. Everything is going great, everyone is excited – and now, maybe after a long busy work, you slow down enough to think and reflect. Is this the way it’s supposed to be?
Leadership by vision is very nuanced and “time sensitive” execution – which doesn’t always allow you to stop and look beyond what you can see with your physical eyes or immediate context.
Last month for two and a half weeks, I was alone in an ancient room in Bethlehem, Palestine. No air conditioning, no TV, just a fan, my Bible and journal – and prayer. It’s been a busy life. Though I start every day in God’s Word, prayer, and personal worship as soon as I’m finished I pick up where I left off the previous day.
Leadership by vision comes by a dream. Leadership by obedience comes from a divine nudge that calls you challenge something that’s wrong. It’s the prophetic role of leadership we don’t really practice that much in American Christianity or understand – me included.
I first experienced it when God convicted me years ago of my fear, disdain, and dislike of Muslims. I had to be reminded from God’s Word that they too were created in the image of God and were sacred as all human beings are. I had to be reminded from the Holy Spirit that God is love and I am to love and he wants me to love them. It required some necessary heart work inside of me personally. I pastor a few thousand people – they have those same negative feelings that I’ve had – how do I bring them over? Not to say I agree with everything Muslims say and do but neither for us to be driven by fear and hate, and thereby not fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. It was a very hard thing to do. So, I eased into the water. There is no map for this. Whereas leadership by vision is very focused and clear leadership by obedience is always in ambiguity. You can only follow the truth of God’s word and the direction of the Holy Spirt.
This isn’t like changing your worship style, leadership structure, or ministries – this is changing culture. Changing culture demands the highest level of leadership because you have to hear God moment by moment and you are going somewhere that you can’t raise money for or fire people up over. “Hey everybody today is going to be awesome – I want you to think of the person you are most fearful of or that you dislike the most and we are going to bless them!” I wasn’t ready for all the attacks I received both from within our church and outside of it.
I experienced it again when God began to speak to me about how me and our church works all over the world, but for the most part our church was anglo. There are over 50,000 non-Anglo’s that live in my area of nearly 500,000 people – do they matter? It’s just 10%, they can come to our church if they want! It took more than that – we began to intentionally and ethnically diversify our church. It was also a very hard thing to do, but the right thing to do. It would have been easy to just let happen what happens, but this was something that would never change on it’s own, it demanded intentionality. Nobody is going to encourage you to address things like this – if anything they’re going to tell you to be careful, change is slow and long, and in time it will change. Don’t believe that lie – change doesn’t happen without intentionality. Neither believe that change doesn’t come without a price. You can have all the action steps and change theory you want in place but know this, change always has a price, especially when you are dealing with cultural change. Sacrificing money is easy compared to what you will have to sacrifice with leadership by obedience.
The biggest challenge of leadership by obedience? It isn’t self-centeredness or glorifying yourself. It’s disillusionment with what you know the truth to be but bald-faced rejection of the people who say they love God giving reasons why we don’t have to love or reach out to others. It’s discouragement – when we speak prophetically we can expect people to get angry and leave us. If you’ve built your entire ministry around God’s blessing is equal to a growing crowd – you’re really going to struggle in this season – I have. It’s hard to see people leave because your expanding the gospel beyond your own “culture” or “tribe” to all people. It’s despair – wanting to give up and quit – it’s just too hard and no one really cares.
But, I’ve also hung in there long enough to see the fruit from “doing the right thing.” I am connected to the world and minorities in ways that I never would have dreamed. It has opened doors that I never would have imagined or knew were even an option. Here’s something else, leadership by obedience is incredibly critical because it sees a future harvest. If things are not put right, there is no future for a loveless discriminating church. Even now, millennials are so turned off by church in America because of the hypocrisy and that will not change anytime soon. No amount of lights, smoke, and celebrity leaders will lead us out of this desert. Things were going so good in Isaiah chapter one, big attendance, fasting, great offerings – but God wasn’t pleased. The corporate nature of sin even in the church eventually catches up with us.
I would also say that leadership by obedience demands a stronger walk with God, a focus more on his Kingdom and the eternal. I’ve learned that the world is reached not because of a pure church but in spite of a flawed church – read Acts & Corinthians. These things are not new. Acts is the story of the church growing, coming up against various prejudices, dealing with them and growing more. In American Christianity we’ve settled for crowds without realizing who isn’t present – as long as someone is present. The result is the church is very tribal, partisan, vs being an entity that embraces and makes space for all wanting to follow Jesus.
This is more about who we “are to be” for God than it is what are “going to do” for God.
30 Leaders from 10 different cities gathered together in Abu Dhabi early May 2017 for a Multi-Faith event. Every city leadership had representations of the three Abrahamic faith; Christians, Muslim, and Rabbis. The goal is to build bridges of relationships, develop trust and work towards a strategic plan that would bring peace and reconciliation to their cities. They created plans to eat meals together as families; to bring their constituencies together to break down the walls of separation and work together to see the prosperity of their city. They committed to standing up for each other in the face of religious persecution and get involved in global affairs in promoting peace among religions and to speak up against religious persecution worldwide.
This event was a collaborative effort between three organizations; Glocalnet, International Interfaith Peace Corp and the Forum for Peace. Glocalnet led by Dr. Bob Roberts and IIPC led by Imam Magid Mohamed, have been working together for years bringing Pastors and Imams together on a retreat called “Building Bridges of Faith”. This retreat has been designed to break down walls of suspicion, build a foundation of trust and create a pathway to peace and reconciliation in their cities. Forum of Peace led by Sheikh Bin Bayyah a world-renowned Muslim scholar and the United Arab Emirates sponsored this retreat in Abu Dhabi in May 2017 and invited Rabbis to join for the first time. It was a historic event; the first of it’s kind.
The leadership of each city returned with a strategic plan to execute the vision to promote peace and to work together to build stronger and more resilient communities of faith.
These are some lessons I walked away with.
Every Religion has peacemakers. Find them and work with them for the common good. These are people of peace who wield massive influence. Influence many times is greater than power, for influence has the ability to move the masses as it frequently affects the heart not only the head.
Love is stronger than hate. The force of love is much more powerful than hate. When religious leaders decide to love all people regardless of their differences and choose love over hate, it changes the environments of our cities and communities.
Generosity is a powerful force. It is not a passive sentiment but a powerful action that moves the heart of others. It puts pressure on the soul of others for good. The leader of this region led by Sheikh Bin Bayyah showed great generosity toward the strangers and visitors and it warmed the heart of all who attended.
If not us, then who? Just because we do not share common beliefs does not mean we do not share a common humanity. Religions of all people carry an ethos of what Rabbi Sacks calls “ethics of responsibility”. We of all people should be the first to put into action love and care for people. The best of our faiths should always move us to love and harmony not hate and wars.
We are all truly created in the image of God. We are all children of Adam and Eve. Our journey through life and religions shapes us. However, if you look beneath the layers of beliefs and philosophies we developed as we have grown from childhood to adulthood, you will find a common humanity. A desire for family, peace, friendship and community. We all desire to be known and loved. We were not created to be alone therefore God made us to remove the aloneness of each other.
Hospitality is a powerful practice. Eating meals together and listening to each other’s story breaks down the walls of suspicion and separation. Eating meals together is not some flippant thing we do. It is the core of what we do. Food creates an environment like no other. It values the other at its very essence as we share each other’s culture.
Laughter brings people together like nothing else. When people laugh with each other it creates a bond. It speaks of a God who has given to us such a precious gift that allows us to forget for a moment, all of our differences and troubles and elevates us to a place that is transcendent. Rabbi Noach Wienbergs says, “Laughter is an opportunity to transcend limitations that bind us to see God more clearly.”
There is a need for a grassroots movement that will create friendship among religious leaders of all different faiths. “Dealing with religious actors is the major missing ingredient,” says Pastor Bob Roberts, President of Glocalnet and one of the leading Christian leaders promoting peace among all religions. It is time to capitalize on the extensive ties of faith leaders and develop a grassroots movement that is built on trust and respect for each other and seek to collaborate with our academic, political, and institutional efforts to bring positive change to this world.
Human relationships are not negotiated; they are reconciled – Robert Seiple
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God – Matthew 5:9
Notice it did not say blessed are the peacekeepers. There is a world of a difference between a peacemaker and a peacekeeper. A peacemaker works toward reconciliation instead of tolerance. Its goal is transformation versus co-existence. It deals with the heart and not just the head.
Glocalnet’s vision statement states that we are about reconciliation. The fact that relationships are to be reconciled not negotiated is a profound statement that if properly understood reframes our approach to conflict resolution. This applies to all kinds of relationships and all kinds of conflicts. Only when our goal is reconciliation instead of negotiating a transactional arrangement do we move toward a more sustainable solution. However it does require a different vision, a different set of relational tools and ultimately a desire for transformation; a permanent change of heart not head.
A different vision begins with starting with the end in mind. What is the goal we are looking for? Is it only tolerance or reconciliation; is it to be confined to our church buildings or tribe or are we called to take the message of reconciliation to the hard places of the world? A vision isolated from a hurting world loses its power.
The call of a peacemaker is to take this message of reconciliation into the hardest, darkest, most hurting places and apply the balm of healing to the hearts of people and nations. To disciple the nations it must start with healing. In the book of Luke chapter 10 verse 9 Jesus makes this point when He said, “healing precedes preaching”.
A different set of relational tools. One of the most important relational skills is the discipline of listening to understand before you try to make yourself understood. Stephen Covey in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People articulated this principle. It’s also called listening with empathy or listening with the heart not the head. When we are in a negotiating mindset our heads lead out with logic and reason. Logic and reason are the wrong tools for emotional pain or past wounds of the heart. Only emotions heal emotions is the rule of the universe. When we sit with others and listen intently to find a way to crawl into their world, they will feel less alone after they’ve met us.
Robert Seiple, a former U.S Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, wrote in his book Ambassadors of Hope “The ultimate sustainable solution to so many of the world’s problem is reconciliation. A permanent change requires a change of heart.”