Ecclesiastes 7:8, 9 . . .. Do not hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended, for the taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones.
In The Peacemaker by Ken Sande, he diagrams the various responses available to Christians in the midst of interpersonal or church conflict. The top 90% of the 180 degree range goes from overlooking an offense on the left to accountability on the right. Between those are a number of options that all are within the range that he describes as biblical. Outside that 90%, to the left, are the avoidant passive responses- denial. flight, and the ultimate avoidant action- suicide. On the opposite side of the 90% “fair game” responses are the aggressive responses- assault, litigation, and murder. Each of these two ranges at the extremes are called “slippery slopes.”
The middle solid-footing range, in addition to overlooking an offense or holding people to mutual accountability, includes reconciliation, negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. When there is insufficient engagement or willingness to discuss the issues to allow parties to maneuver through the 90% biblical range of options, it is very easy to fall or feel pushed to the edge, especially if the stakes are high and trust is low.
I teach our Titus 2 students these various modalities of staying on the top side. Each of them immediately recognizes the extreme she has most often tumbled down due to her particular personality and learned responses to conflict. Learning to keep one’s footing on the top side, especially in the midst of emotional distress, requires a lot of skill. If the other party simply will not discuss the issues at the heart of the conflict, then a peacemaker can only walk away, but not until every effort has been made to bring the issues to the table for discussion. Peacekeepers, on the other hand, strive to quell conflicts……sustain the status quo……avoid discussion of potentially volatile issues……and use power to clear the table.