A Passion For Peacemaking
Scott T. Cliff
Mediator and Certified Christian Conciliator™
As I think back on two weeks ago today I am amazed at God. What a transformation in our family. I am in communication with our son as if we have never had a problem. The breach in our relationship is gone. As you know we had not spoken for five years. We had not seen our granddaughter from the time she was two. ***** I can't thank you enough for providing a forum for us to sit across the table from one another and deal with our problems. There was nowhere else for us to go. *** We were facing the real prospect of living out the rest of our days, never seeing or speaking to this son of ours, or watching our granddaughter grow up. *** Scott, God was gracious to lead us to your doorstep. We could not have felt more loved and cared for in the face of accusations that no one would want aired in public. You always stayed objective but not cold. You expressed God's heart of compassion in a way that honored God and blessed our family. What a blessing this ministry has been for us. ***** I know it has been God alone who has done this and He deserves all the credit, but I thank you for your willingness to serve our family in the capacity in which you served us. You are a servant of the Living God and I thank God for you. May God bless you and use you to further His Kingdom, so the world might see, that in fact, with God, it is possible to, "love one another".
As a law student and courtroom clerk for the Presiding Judge in Oregon's busiest court, and later as a lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, conflict coach, teacher of biblical peacemaking, and Certified Christian Conciliator™, I have played various roles in helping thousands of people "resolve" their disputes--some in more healthy ways than others. In more than 30 years of service in the "justice system" and over 15 years of mediating disputes among Christians, I have witnessed the damage done to individuals, churches, organizations and society as a whole, when people in conflict respond with bitterness, defensiveness, gossip and attack; but I have also witnessed and played a part in miracles of restoration and healing. My passion is now to help people embroiled in conflict to not only resolve their material disputes, but to also find healing and spiritual growth in the process.
The path to true peace
Nearly 20 years ago, shortly after my new birth as a believer in Jesus Christ, a fellow attorney introduced me to a book called The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande. That one book set me on a path that has transformed how I view interpersonal conflict and how I use my gifts in helping others who find themselves in the midst of disputes. I now see that, like so many other trials in this life, God uses our conflicts with others to grow us and make us more Christ-like. We all experience interpersonal conflict; what matters to God is how we respond to it.
What I have learned, both personally and in assisting others, is that the proper response to conflict does not come naturally to any of us. Ever since Adam blamed Eve (and indirectly blamed God for giving him Eve) and Eve blamed the serpent, each of us has nurtured in our fallen natures a sort of “inner attorney” who rises to our defense and prosecutes those who offend us. But the true path to peace in human relationships is radically contrary to our fallen natures. Jesus put it this way:
"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how [b]can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." (Matt. 7:3)
The profound truth of this teaching is that for true peace and healing to be possible, each of the parties to a dispute must first recognize their own contributions to the conflict (however great or small), confess their wrongs to those they have hurt by their words or actions, and apologize and ask for forgiveness. Only after doing so, are we in any position to address the other party’s faults in the matter (if our humble approach does not inspire them to, likewise, remove their own “logs”). This proper order of confessing our sins first and then, if necessary, assisting others in seeing their own fault is the opposite of what our litigious, rights-oriented cultures teach us.
Through the Institute for Christian Conciliation, a Division of Peacemaker Ministries, I have been trained and certified to practice and teach a system of conflict resolution for Christians that is based on this truth and countless others found in scripture. I have also applied those same truths in mediating all sorts of disputes involving non-believers. The typical results are profoundly more satisfying to the participants than simple compromises reached in the vast majority traditional mediations.
God heals broken relationships
In my years of service as a Certified Christian Conciliator™, I have seen God heal relationships that once seemed broken beyond repair—almost always making them stronger than they were before the conflict that brought them to me. I have witnessed parents being reconnected with their estranged, adult children and grandchildren; I have seen ministries rescued from the brink of collapse as conflict has been replaced by forgiveness, grace and a new passion for service; and I have marveled as God has restored unity in churches on the verge of splitting. All of this has given me a passion to help make such healing and restoration available to those who need it but cannot afford it.
Why your help is so critical?
When the financial stakes are high, most people recognize the wisdom of engaging the services of a trained mediator to avoid the costs and risks of litigation. However, many serious conflicts involve primarily relational issues with few, if any, financial incentives to pursue mediation. Furthermore, many who find themselves in potentially life-altering conflicts, such as marital or family disputes, simply cannot afford to pay their share of a mediator’s fees. Your contribution in any amount can help restore unity and peace to a marriage, a family, a ministry, a church, a business relationship, or any other context in which the parties see the need to work through conflict and are willing to do so in the way God has ordained.
How will your funds be used?
All contributions received through Fund Hope will be used to provide financial assistance to people of modest means who are willing to humble themselves and engage in the hard work of peacemaking. In such cases, I reduce my fees substantially and apply all contributions to offset the balance, making assisted, biblical reconciliation services available to those who could otherwise not afford them.
While confidentiality is essential to such work, my Fund Hope supporters will be able to read reports of reconciliations enabled by their contributions.
Why do I need your support to do this work?
Frankly, if I could afford to retire, I would spend the rest of my days on earth doing the peacemaking work I love the most; but I’m not there yet. Like most of you I have to find a balance between earning an income and giving my time, talent and treasures to Kingdom work. So it boils down to this: Your support will enable me to do the work of a missionary, work that brings peace and has eternal significance.
I’m still working on my own “inner attorney.” With your help my “outer attorney” can back off a bit as well and let the mediator go to work.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please give as the LORD directs, and may He bless you as you help fund peace.
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