LISTEN TO EP.85
How to Go From Conflict to Peacemaking in Four Surprising Steps
How can you find personal peace amid conflict in your relationships, jobs, or even church? Brian Noble, pastor and Executive Director/CEO of Peacemaker Ministries says that it is possible to live in peace in the midst of conflict. Sharing his own experiences he reveals that it is possible to live reconciled with others even when there is no resolution of the issues that caused the conflicts. He discusses the four-step process of peacemaking that will help us overcome conflict, how understanding God’s sovereignty and justice gives us insight into peacemaking, and that reconciliation can happen when we understand it is based on the work of the cross. Discover today what it means to be a peacemaker and the one key to finding true peace.
Welcome to the Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young with cohost Dave Donaldson, and Dave is out on assignment today. So you’re here with me and a fascinating guest. We’re going to be talking about conflict resolution. In fact, when is the last time you had a conflict? Was it earlier today? Was it last night? What conflicts did you have in the last week? Have you resolved those conflicts, or do you just leave them unresolved, stuff them down, and keep going? Do you have conflicts from years and years of accumulation? Today, we’re going to be talking about conflict and peace-making. We have a fascinating guest with us.
Brian Noble has a personal story of peace and reconciliation. That goes way back to his childhood. His parents were divorced when he was six years old, which began a rift with his father. By the age of 16, he was heavily involved in alcohol and by 18, he had a gun and was ready to take his life. A friend intervened and persuaded him, brought him to church, where Brian learned about Jesus and learned about forgiveness. He dedicated his life.
Now he is the Executive Director and CEO of a ministry called Peacemakers Ministries. He is a certified peacemaking coach and has over a thousand hours of conflict resolution and mediation experience. He’s an author of many books, wonderful books, “The Pathway of the Peacemaker”, “Daily Wisdom for Peacemaking”, and “Living Reconciled”.
What Carrying Peace Means
Brian, I want to welcome you to the Influencers Podcast, and let me start with this. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers?”
Well, I think that’s a fabulous part of the Beatitudes. These are the things that we are to have. And then he says, “For they shall be called children of God”, he makes an identity statement there. Actually, he says, “It’s not that you’re doing peace-making, it’s that you have the Prince of Peace dwelling inside of you”. Therefore you can. You’re part of the family of God and therefore you can make peace as you go. And so he’s just pulling us in and he’s moving on our hearts and our minds as believers in Jesus Christ, that we can walk in the peace that God has provided and provide that same peace to others.
Now you’re in a long term marriage, 25 years, four children. But one child with…I shouldn’t say unusual, but with a real challenge in life, Rett Syndrome, which has left her unable to walk or speak. And oftentimes families that have a child that is challenged has even more conflict. How have you guys had peace for 25 years with this? In the midst of your family, maybe someone’s listing right now and they’ll identify.
Yeah. Isabella is 20 years old now. So out of the 25 years of marriage, we’ve had disability in our marriage. And I like to say, we have a “spicy marriage”, my wife and I are not doormats. And we like to talk things through sometimes with a little bit louder volume than other times. But we always seem to be able to come back around and say, “Hey, babe, let’s just stop and pray. Let’s let’s work through this”. Oftentimes I’d be a little bit more hands off. She would be more hands on. There were times when we would have different ideas of what to do in situations. And so it really provided this opportunity for us to figure out life together and to grow closer together. And that was the key, to say, “You know what, I’m here to serve my wife and my wife’s here to serve me. And it’s a mutual submission”. It’s been 20 years of struggle, but it’s also been 20 years of seeing God just do something fantastic in our hearts and mature us as we go.
Reconciling Despite Disagreeing
It’s fascinating that you said that it’s been an opportunity for you to draw closer together because many people, when they have a disabled child, they drift farther apart, it becomes an issue of contention. So it’s an amazing part of your journey. Let me go back. Your dad, you had a conflict that was detrimental in your life. Did you ever resolve with your dad?
So my dad and I have completely reconciled, although we’ve never really resolved the issue.
Wow. Wow. What does that mean?
Well, what that means is there was a point when God challenged me, he said, “Brian, do you believe that Jesus Christ paid the price for this broken relationship?” I said, yes. Then he said, “Then I just want you just to lay it at the cross and let it go”. Because my dad and I were never going to see eye to eye on the relationship. So, because I allowed Jesus to pay the price, I was able to say, ” Dad, I forgive you”. And I can even remember my dad saying, “For what?” Like what? I’m like, “I just want you to know it’s all in the past”. And so we started moving forward in that relationship and there’s a lot to that story as we go. And but I just had to really say, I’m not going to debate every emotional memory. I’m not going to try to get that. We see every situation as exactly the same. I’m going to trust that God is just, and that I can trust him with that pain and allow him to move on my heart and to be dressed over my dad as well. And so it’s reconciled, even though we haven’t seen eye to eye on, on even his parenting techniques. If you want to say it that way.
That’s fast, because for sure, someone’s listening right now. And unresolved fatherhood issues are huge in our culture, in our society. So that approach is I think powerful and fascinating. You’ve said, “I forgive you”, and you’re not going to go back and try to resolve every issue. And that’s been the key to moving forward.
Exactly. So if you think about it, Paul says, “Forget what lies behind and press onto what lies ahead”. And II Corinthians 5, he says, “We no longer define people according to the flesh or according to their fallenness”. So that’s what I’ve done with my dad. And hopefully he’s done that with me as well. So I’m not saying it’s a one way street. I was perfect. He was not. I’m saying hopefully simultaneously, we just said, “Listen, we can’t go change one part of the past”. However, our future, we can begin to say, “How are we going to have a healthy relationship moving forward?” And how are we going to exercise the Gospel that we like to proclaim, moving forward? There were many injustices that I either caused or he caused, but we were never going to see eye to eye on those. And to really move forward and just say, “You know what, that’s done. What, what can we do from here?”
4 Step Process for Peacemaking
So you talk about a four step process for peace-making. And is that part of the four step process? Or maybe you can walk us through this for someone that says, “I’ve got some issues, I’d like there to be peace in a relationship”, to help someone that’s in conflict right now to kind of walk through those steps.
All right, let me give you the summary. And then I’ll kind of go through each.
Sure. Go through each one.
The first is discover the story and stretch your perspective. So that’s where we’re quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Number two, is where we set our mind on the things above, not on the things of this earth. Number three is reflect – that’s where we take the log out of our own eye before we take the spec out of someone else’s eye. Number four is connect – that’s where we go and be reconciled. And so each of those have a Scriptural foundation.
The first is from James; be quick to listen. Hearing each other’s perspective or story is so powerful and understand that you may not share the same perspective. That doesn’t mean that the other person’s a liar or deceptive. That simply means from two different mountain tops, we’re seeing the same object from different angles.
Secondly, is setting our mind on the things above this is where we get an eternal perspective. I actually see that the church is struggling with this right now. Because we begin to set our mind on earthly things. And so if you take the situation with my father, I’m going to have more days with my dad whole and complete than I’m ever going to have in his fallen world. Now, is that just wishful thinking? No, I believe in eternity, I believe in the redemptive work of Christ, and it actually comes from Genesis 45 with Joseph, where he says to his brothers, “You sold me into slavery, but God had an eternal plan for this.” It’s shifting, reframing what the injustices we experience here on earth to say, “I’m going to get God’s perspective on this”. So good. And Paul did the same thing in Philippians 4. He said, “Whatever is honorable, whatever is right, dwell and think on these things”, and then reflect – is that taking personal responsibility?
This is where Jesus says very clearly in your judgments, “You’re going to be judged the same way, with the same measurements”. So here’s what I want you to do. “Take the log, which is huge, out of your eye. Before you try to take the spec, which is small out of their eyes. Look at your contribution to the conflict, which is greater than the other person’s contribution”. And when we trust in the gospel message, we’re able to do that.
Then when we connect, we go and be reconciled. We make and implement a plan. It moves, it propels us forward. So that it’s a healthy dialogue, it’s healthy relationship. And here’s the key to all this working, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ, because circumstances and the enemy or whatever will remind you of someone else’s fallen nature. I mean, it just happens and it’s easy to dwell on those things.
Reconciling with God
Yep. And we actually do have motions. Tell me your story, ascend, reflect and connect. Wow.
We’re talking about reconciling with parents with friends, and with coworkers. What about the importance of reconciling with God, with the divine, with Christ? How does that work and how does it fit into the stuff that goes on in this world? You talked about being heavenly, like set your mind on things above, how do we reconcile with what is above?
First off, I believe it comes through repentance and turning to the living God, saying, “God, I’m a sinner. You’re holy. I submit myself to you and to your plan”, and and turning to him and allowing the work that Christ did on the cross to pay for our sentence. I think it’s it with that foundation. I think what really helps to find that foundation from a biblical worldview is the Bible. Right? So then we have to go look at the, the Word of God and say, “All right, so what does God say about suffering? What does God say about this world?” And all the things that, that we experience in this world. With my daughter, I’ll give you an example. I was like, either God is evil and doesn’t want to heal her, or he can’t heal her. I’ve gone through all those things. Processing through those things. And I remember thinking one time, “Well, maybe the truth is simply this: I live in a fallen world and I’m feeling the consequence of consequences of fallenness, even if it’s not something that I caused”. I said that I’ve done in my own family. So that’s hard for us as humans, because we love the fairy dust and butterflies and rainbows. But the fact is that this is a fallen world. And so when we see injustice, instead of in our hearts or in my heart saying, God, you’re unjust because I’m experiencing this, I say, no, the Bible’s true.
Adam and Eve sin brought sin into the world – whether I’m suffering the consequences. That biblical worldview is so foundational to reconciling with God.
Sovereignty of God
Well, so you talk about like leaning in or trusting in the sovereignty of God and the justice of God as part of the peace-making process. Is that what you’re talking about?
Absolutely. The most quoted verse or one of the most quoted verses besides John 3:16 in the peacemaking world is, “If possible, as far as it depends on me, live at peace with all men”, right? Then we say, well, it’s not possible, right? People don’t go to the next verse. They don’t say the next verse says, “Never take vengeance, but leave room for the wrath of God”. That’s the next verse after the most quoted verse. Why is that? Well, because if we remove judgment from our heart and truly believe that God is sovereign, and I don’t have to be in control and I don’t have to be the judge, if I trust that God’s a good judge and he’s sovereign over issues in situations, I can entrust that over to him. And then it says, “Never overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good”, in that same section that I’m talking about. So my only priority is to give a blessing instead, and I know it’s counterproductive. I know it’s counterculture what I’m saying, cuz our culture saysget your pound to flesh right now. Otherwise it’ll never be done right with, but it, why do we say that? We say that because we don’t trust that God is absolutely just. And I can guarantee he’ll be a better judge than you. Or me.
What to Do When Others Don’t Want Peace
That is so good. Let’s think about that for a moment. We have to trust that God is more just than we are. Wow. So powerful. We’ve got people that we can say, “Hey, will you forgive me?” Or you try to reconcile with them. You try to make peace with them and they just throw up a blockade. They don’t just say, like your dad, “Well, what are you talking about?” They go, “No”, and you just feel resistance, but you would like to live in peace with them. And you just talked about that verse “As much as it possible”. Is that how you resolve that? What do we do with someone that just won’t resolve or make peace with us? How do we go on living with that in our history?
Yeah. So you threw out a lot of R words there, and I think they’re great. I want to break those R words down. So reconciliation is based upon the work of the Cross and that Christ paid the bill. Number one. So no one can steal your reconciliation.
“Reinstatement of relationship” or moving forward in relationship. That’s something completely different. In Heaven we’ll have both reinstated relationship and reconciliation simultaneously, but here let’s say you’re upset at me. You can apply the blood of Christ, the payment of Christ to the relationship. Even if I don’t want to, you can have peace with me, even if I don’t want to have peace with you. Then the question you is is how do I practically respond? Well, we see lots of examples of that in Scripture: we see Paul and Barnabas went separate ways. We see Joseph got up and left Potiphar’s wife’s house. We see a lot of different responses to that. We see I’m always cautious about comparing ourselves to Jesus, because he is God. But we see Jesus saying, “You brood of vipers”. We have these different things that are examples that really help us in those moments, but understand this, no other human being can steal your peace, the peace that you have from God.
Understand that I was a Sheriff’s Chaplain for 20 years and I’ve worked with a lot of domestic violence situations. I would encourage typically the young lady to understand that their abuser cannot still their peace because peace is based upon the cross and upon the work of of Jesus, not on someone else’s remorse. And so when you apply that now, what does that mean? That doesn’t mean you put yourself back into a dangerous situation. It doesn’t mean that you put yourself back into abusive relationships. It means that you have to remove yourself from that and then keep yourself safe. And then work on applying the peace of God into the relationship.
Forgiveness Key to Peace? Restitution vs. Reconciliation
So do we have to forgive in our hearts before we can start moving towards making peace? Is forgiveness an essential to the peace process?
So there’s been a lot of debate on this quite frankly. I’ve taught in Eastern Orthodox situations, Jewish situations, in reformed and Christian and Pentecostal situations – all these different environments and there’s a lot of debate. So I’m just going to share my perspective and let people do their research on the other perspectives.
I would say that Christ gives us the parable of the servant that would forgive the debt as a great example as to how we are to forgive. Now, forgiveness is not saying what that the person did is right. Forgiveness is saying in this example is that I have been forgiven much. Therefore I forgive much, it’s saying I’ve embraced God’s forgiveness. Therefore I take the debt that I owed and I take that same grace and apply to somebody else. So on that type of forgiveness, I say, yes, that is the key to experiencing peace. And that can be done prior to any conversation that you might ever have with the other person. That doesn’t mean that restitution is not needed. If I stole a hundred bucks from you, you can forgive me. But I still owe you the a hundred bucksI That’s restitution. Sometimes people conflate those two things like, “Well, if I forgive them, I don’t get my a hundred bucks back”. Yeah, that was theft and I would owe it to you.
So tell us about Peacemakers Ministry and the organization that you’re involved in and what does it do? What work is that organization about?
So peacemaker ministries exist to assist and equip Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically. And we have been around for 30 years and in a hundred countries. And we step into two primary areas. The church where there’s church conflict – we will step in and help the church with their conflicts. And families – we will step in and help families with their conflict. And we do that through education, books, resources, and those kind of things. You could call it mediation if you think of a formal process, but we can also do it through what we call path conversations, which is a conversational approach to reconciliation. We come in those ways and sometimes we do have to arbitrate. We have to make a decisions for people, but those are few and far between. And so that’s what we do as a ministry. And we touch and help a ton of people to respond to conflict biblically.
Daily Wisdom for Peacemaking
The first place that I saw Peacemakers Ministry was in an arbitration clause. We will not go to court. We will, as Christians come to peacemakers and they will help to arbitrate the issue that was, and I didn’t know anything about you guys. And so it’s fascinating to talk to you today and to just listen to just the wisdom. Now you’ve written a book that’s out now, “Daily Wisdom for Peacemaking”. Tell us a little bit about that book and what it would offer people on their journey of life.
What we found is that Christian link or iLink, right. You get this information, you’re excited. How do we apply biblical principles of reconciliation on a daily basis and not have that seep out of our life? So we find ourselves responding to conflict poorly. And so I decided, well, I guess the best way is a daily reminder. So we wrote a 365 day devotional that takes a Scripture and we look at that Scripture and then we have an application for our relationship. How can I apply that verse four today? So it’s meant to be more than the scripture. It’s really meant for high application. How do I walk this out on a daily approach? And so we use the daily devotional as our follow up care after we’ve done case work with people, you know to say, “Hey, keep your mindset on this peace and reconciliation”, because if you’re like me, if you’ve gone into a high conflict, it’s really easy for us to think, and to kind of see back into our minds and challenge us to, you know do things that don’t glorify God.
Connecting with Brian and Peacemaker Ministries
And if someone’s interested in getting a hold of that and walking through a year of thinking about peace and moving towards peace, how do they do that? How do they connect with you, your ministry, your organization, just know a little bit more about Peacemakers Ministries?
Yeah. So they can go to our website, https://www.peacemakerministries.org/, or they can go to at the apple app store or the Google play store and search out peacemaker ministries and all the information’s right there on their phone. So even, even a summary version of how to have a conversation through conflict. So it’s not just an app to sell you stuff, it’s there to be helpful. You could navigate conflict and it will walk you beginning to end through a simple conflict. So it’s just right there in front of you. And, and it’s either apple app store or Google play. And if they want to call us, they can call us at (800) 711-7118.
Okay. We’ll put all of that in the show notes. If you want to look at that friends and connect with Brian. And if you would be so kind, there’s somebody that’s listening, many people, I think, but they’re in conflict right now. And if we would just take a moment to pray to the Prince of Peace, if you could lead us in just saying, Lord, yeah, help people to find peace in their relationships, that’d be a great blessing.
Absolutely. Father. We know that the Prince of Peace dwells inside every heart of every believer and Lord, I pray that as we walk through stormy times in our life through tough times in our life, that we would, we would call upon the name that’s above every other name, the name of Jesus, and allow him to calm the storms around us, to speak to those areas in our life and our heart that are just pressing up against the, against our life. God. And so Lord, I pray for the listeners today that may be experiencing that, that may be going through a hard time. First, I pray for hope. I pray that they would have hope not in their circumstances, but hope in the promise that your word has provided that you are a good God that goes before in all situations. Secondly, I pray for clarity.
That where there’s areas of confusion, that they would simply know that you are a God of clarity, you shine light into the dark areas of our hearts and our minds. And then I, third, I pray for humility. God, I pray that we would be humble and recognize that at our greatest points of injustice is our greatest opportunity to be like your son, Jesus Christ. And so I thank you for that. God teach us to be humble God, and to, and not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, but to really look out for the interest of other people, God. And so we give you this time, we ask this over individuals and families. But God, our world, our culture it’s it’s, it’s huge right now, tension is high. And so we ask for your help in Jesus name.
Wow, Brian, what a wonderful conversation. And thank you for joining us on the Influencers Podcast. I know your words, your wisdom and people connecting with you is just going to make their life better, increase their influence and make their world better. Thank you so much, Brian, for joining us.