I’m in the process of developing a presentation on Grace and conflict for LIFE 24/7. Conflict is something that I’ve run from for years and for a variety of reasons. A counselor/friend of mine calls it an avoidance tendency. Peace must come at all costs even if it means losing my identity.  In reality, there was a time in my life when I let this ‘peace at all costs’ mentality take my identity away. So how do you deal with conflict? How can you confront an issue without being abused, or the abuser?

 

Most of us, I think use the ‘fight or flight’ concept of conflict resolution. We resolve to stand firm, or cower in the corner to lick our wounds. Neither of those are the best way to handle conflict, as I’ve found from personal experience.

 

In the midst of my study I ran across an old friend that I’d sort of forgotten about. The prophet Nehemiah is someone that I want to do more study on. He’s an amazing individual. Forget the ‘Bible person’ façade for a bit and look at him as the man he was.

 

As I read through Nehemiah this morning I saw several things that inspired me. Not an in-depth study in any way. Just a few surface observations that I want to dig into deeper at a later date. But I share them here with us for now.

 

If there is one quality Nehemiah had that I’d love to emulate in my own life it is the ‘think first, act second’ mentality. If you aren’t familiar with this prophet let me give you a brief synopsis:

 

  • He is part of the group taken from Jerusalem into captivity, but one of the lucky ones as he is the King’s cupbearer.
  • Nehemiah hears of the destruction of Jerusalem and it cuts him to the quick. Yet his reaction is amazing. In his grief he turns to prayer and fasting.
  • He took responsibility on himself for the sins of his nation and approached God humbly and wisely to seek forgiveness.
  • When the King gives him opportunity to speak, he obviously has a vision of what he’d like to see God do, yet he prays one more time before sharing his vision with the King. Composed. Wise. Resolved to see God work.
  • Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem to survey the damage. For three days he evaluates the situation. Although he had a plan, implementation of that plan would not happen until he re-evaluated the situation.
  • Once his evaluation was complete he built around him a small group of leaders who shared his vision for Jerusalem. He had a core group, a board so to speak, that would work side by side throughout the rebuilding of the wall.
  • He endured ridicule from outside enemies and dissension from within the ranks. Yet in all these things we never see Nehemiah become angry or even depressed. He had vision. He had focus. He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He wasn’t so driven by his plan that he forgot to bring the people he was serving along with him.
  • Nehemiah had respect. The work he did in Jerusalem was so significant that Israel’s enemies readily acknowledged that God must be in it.

 

It took only 52 days for the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem under the direction of Nehemiah. That would be a great feat today with modern technology. However, it was even a greater achievement during Nehemiah’s time.

 

Vision is what drives great leaders. Knowing what needs to be done and instilling that vision in others is how great things are accomplished. A distinguishing mark of a great leader is how they react to adversity and how they can ‘sell their vision’ to those around them.

 

Conflict of some sort will face each of us at some point be in our families, churches, communities or jobs. Taking lessons from the life of Nehemiah can help us to handle that conflict in a calmness and wisdom we can only get from reliance on God.

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