How to Earn Respect in Times of Conflict
By Rick Warren
“A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 (CEV)
One of the deepest needs in life is the need to feel respected by others. In fact, Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold” (CEV).
But being respected doesn’t come automatically—you have to earn it. One way you earn it is by how you handle conflict. Why? Because any time you’re involved in a disagreement, people will watch to see how you’re going to react.
Nehemiah is a great example of someone who earned the respect of others by the way he handled conflict. Here’s how Nehemiah did it and how you can do it too:
Nehemiah paused to think before he spoke. He listened to the complaints and charges the Israelites had against those who exploited them during a famine. And before he responded, he “pondered them in [his] mind” (Nehemiah 5:7 NIV). This means he carefully considered the situation. He thought it through before he spoke, putting his mind in gear before opening his mouth.
In today’s world, people quickly spout their ideas about injustices without ever thinking. Instead, we need to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20 NIV).
Nehemiah resolved conflict privately. When he saw the injustice that was happening, Nehemiah didn't start with a public protest. He first tried to build a bridge with the offenders who were taking advantage of the poor to increase their own net worth. The Bible says that he “called together a large meeting to deal with them” (Nehemiah 5:7 NIV).
This is also the way Jesus commanded his followers to handle conflict in churches. He says in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you” (NIV). Going public is the last resort. If you want to be respected, do it God's way.
Nehemiah appealed to the best in people. He told the insensitive leaders, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God . . . ? . . . but now let us stop this business of charging interest. You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes” (Nehemiah 5:9-11 NLT). And they did what Nehemiah said, because they respected him.
If you want to be respected, bring out the best in others. Don't appeal to their worst instincts, fears, or prejudices. Proverbs 11:27 says, “If your goals are good, you will be respected” (GNT).
Respect and influence go hand in hand. In times of conflict, follow Nehemiah’s example.
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