This article shows how parents and teachers are called to be peacemakers in their parenting and teaching responsibilities.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2006. 2 pages.

The Peace-Seeking Parent and Teacher

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3

In times of peace, countries will discuss and promote bridge-building. But in times of war, countries will attempt to bomb and destroy bridges. Bridge-building develops connections and makes it easier to reach and interact with each other. Bridge-destroying cuts off the possibility of connection and makes it more diffi­cult to cooperate and interact.

As a parent, you are like the hub of a city. Many roads of communication meet at this hub. Think of your husband and wife relationship, son and daugh­ter communication, family interaction between chil­dren and grandchildren, and extended family links and events. As a teacher, you are no isolated island. Many lines of communication are connected to you. Think of teacher-board, teacher-principal, teacher-teacher, teacher-student, teacher-parent, and teacher-commu­nity relationships.

Parents and teachers are key traffic circles — critical hubs of communication. If the traffic circle is in good repair, traffic flows smoothly. But if the streets are torn up and lanes are blocked, terrible congestion and dis­array occurs. Drivers become frustrated, irritated, and angry. Likewise, if a communication hub is function­ing as designed, conversations flow back and forth smoothly. But if the hub is malfunctioning, confusion sets in. Callers become annoyed, disgusted, and upset.

Parents and teachers, how well you function as cen­ters of communication is critical to the health of your family and institution. The difference between bridge-builders or bridge-destroyers is clear. The different results of their work are clearly recognizable. Scripture speaks in Ephesians 4:3 of “endeavouring to keep the unity.” “Endeavouring” is a present tense action verb. A parent is to be constantly, every day anew, striving to build and maintain peace in the family circle. A par­ent is to be a builder, continually building and strength­ening the bridges of good communication and trust. A teacher is also to be “endeavouring to keep the unity” by always keeping the traffic circle free of obstacles and the communication hub free from disturbances. “Endeavouring” indicates that this task is never per­fected; it is always ongoing.

Parents and teachers, your bridge-repairing or bridge-destroying qualities are most tested when you hear of unkind words or selfish actions from one of your family or staff members. The unity-builder will go to that person individually and confidentially. To “endeavour to keep the unity” you must want to repair the bridge, clear away the obstacle from the traffic cir­cle, and correct the malfunction in the communication hub. The unity-builder will listen and speak to the per­son or persons necessary to correct the problem or perceived problem. Every word and action is focused on repair. The unity-destroyer’s words and actions are very different. The destroyer listens and speaks with almost anyone about almost anything, except with the person or persons involved in the problem. This further weakens the bridge by widening the breach, adds more confusion and traffic to the circle and fur­ther jumbles the confused messages at the communi­cation hub.

Peacemakers will speak more openly about the pos­itives of others, and when necessary privately to oth­ers regarding perceived negatives. Peace-breakers will speak more openly about the negatives of others, and only when necessary more privately about their pos­itives. Peace-breakers will speak 90 percent of the time about the 10 percent that is negative, but only 10 per­cent of the time about the 90 percent that is positive! They promote disunity and do not “endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Be a true peace-seeking friend. Parents, if one of your family members comes to you with allegations of wrongdoing against another family member, respond like this: “Knowing the person, I find this hard to believe. I think it is very important that you go and speak directly and confidentially with the person about this. It is important not to speak with anyone else, but to him directly.” Teachers, to simply listen and express agreement with a friend when he or she speaks about how badly another person has treated him, is not true friendship. The result of your expression of agreement will likely inflame your friend’s emotions all the more, establish even stronger convictions in your friend’s mind that the other person is totally guilty, and make your friend feel more justified to speak with others, due to perceptions that you responded favorably to the conversation that he had with you.

To respond as a peacemaker becomes even more challenging when the words or actions are against us personally. What does a peace-seeking, Christ-like, Christian response look like? How does it contrast with a natural, worldly, unholy response?

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore per­fect, even as your Father which is in heaven is per­fect.Matthew 5:43-48

A teacher or parent thinks, “If you knew what this student and his parents actually said about me behind my back, how could I possibly ignore it? If you knew half of what this son or daughter did deliberately to stab me in the back, how could I possibly not strike back? If you knew the irreparable damage this person did repeatedly, how could I possibly even say hello to them? How could I possibly respond Christianly?” Our text provides the answer: “the Spirit.” Pray that the Holy Spirit will enable you to focus on Jesus Christ and to base your response on the Word of God, not on the behavior of others to you, or what you have heard about them from others. Stay focused on the critical question: How would God want me to respond at this time, in this situation? What would a Christ-like response look like? Do not allow the wrong behavior of another, alleged or real, influence you to depart from the biblical path for even one step. Ask yourself, “How would a person respond who firmly believes that all matters are in God’s hand, and that God holds me responsible for my words and my actions — but not for those of others?” Pray and strive to keep every one of your steps on the King’s highway. Focus on being a peace-seeking parent; a peace-making teacher. If the Lord still has patience with me and forgives me the ten-thousand-talent debt that I owe Him, shall I not endeavor to forgive my brother who owes me a hun­dred pence? Here is the key to guide our response ­ focus on God’s words and actions; not on people’s.

Are you a peace-seeking parent, a peace-making teacher?

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