This is part two of how to reconcile well. In part one, I shared how the enemy uses our desire for reconciliation or our avoidance of it against us.
Reconciliation is a gift we’ve been given to exercise. Because without it we’d either be handling conflict in our own strength or not handling it at all. Since all gifts are responsibilities, we are called to steward it well.
It’s also a way we distinguish ourselves as being different from the world because reconciliation is a representation of love.
I have a burden on my heart to help people learn how to reconcile. That includes forgiveness and letting go of the entire story. That means not playing it over and over and not telling it over and over.
Unreconciled things really bother me. Sometimes I have to forgive the person who won’t reconcile because that can be a story in itself. But the moment it DOESN’T bother me? That’s when I’ve lost my way and don’t represent Jesus anymore.
Here are 10 things you can do to reconcile well:
1. Ask God what He sees. God may show you that this person is hurting, and that’s why they’re acting strangely, depressed, irritating or even overly joyful. Or He may show you something ugly about how you are responding.
2. Ask God what He wants you to say. This one always surprises me. When left to my own ideas, I fall short of handling it in a way that brings a resolution. God knows what’s in the other person’s heart. His ideas are always best and never fail.
3. Ask God if He will show you what purpose this has in your life. God may show you that this is an area in which He wants to help you grow so He can trust you with bigger responsibility. If you can’t reconcile small stuff, how can you carry the weight of more at work or ministry? Maybe you are in the right, but this situation is meant to help you develop compassion, love or integrity.
4. Don’t let a lot of time go by before making contact or responding. We are never too busy to set up a time to talk. You may not be able to meet right away, but you are able to respond in a timely manner. If you forget, then when you do contact them, let them know you are sorry for the delayed response. And remember, every day that goes by is a day the enemy has an open door to twist the truth and break down the reconciliation process. That doesn’t always mean you have to work something out right away, but it does mean you get it on the calendar right away. Respond to emails or messages within 24 hours.
5. Let others hear your voice and tone by calling or meeting in person. Have you ever heard that body language speaks louder than words? Most things can be resolved with a gentle tone and a listening ear. If you can’t do it in person, at least do it over the phone. Take time to listen and respond, not react. Ask a lot of questions like, “What I’m hearing you say is … is that correct?” Or “What can I do to make this better?” Avoid long-winded lectures and advice. Need I say don’t email?
6. Share how the situation has caused you to feel or act. Take responsibility for your responses, and don’t blame others for how you feel, your circumstances or how you’ve responded (that’s your deal, not theirs). Don’t tell them what they need to do to make you okay. By sharing how it affected you, they’ll automatically get the idea to not do it again. And if they don’t, that’s God’s deal.
7. Love others in the way they would want to be loved, not what makes you the most comfortable. Philippians 2:4 says to “Think of others more highly than yourselves.” That means handling reconciliation in the way that makes THEM feel loved. If love is not returned, that’s OK. Because love means not to control someone else’s response. Extend forgiveness fully by making sure they know it’s OK, and not just by saying you’re sorry or “you’re forgiven.” Humility will heal more than winning a debate.
8. Do your best and then walk in peace: “As far as it concerns you, be at peace with everyone.” Sometimes you are the one who has to take the first step or not leave with the last word. If you think the conflict is their fault, you may need to ask to hear their thoughts on the situation first. Offer up the idea that the enemy may be messing with you, and you want to know if you are perceiving it right or not. Even if it doesn’t end well, do your best to be at peace with that person.
9. Keep the conversation to yourself. Don’t share the conflict or resolution with anyone else without the permission of the other person. If you’ve made them look bad already, then go back to those people and fix it. Don’t allow others to think badly of anyone else.
10. Rejoice. Praise God for how He worked in and through you. The enemy doesn’t want to hear that you were joyful through this. It’s like sealing the deal. Without your rejoicing, it’s too easy for the enemy to bring back all the things he thinks — it often sounds like, “Oh, I wish I’d said that.”
I hope these 10 steps help you reconcile well and have thriving relationships. You have the gift of reconciliation. I pray you steward it well and be a witness to the world. Remember, they will know us by our love.