At some point in every leader’s journey, the Holy Spirit introduces the topic of stewardship. Our stewardship duties encompass many areas of life including the spiritual, emotional, relational, physical, intellectual, and financial domains of wellbeing. Our focus here is the relational area of our lives. What does God ask and expect of us in terms of how we manage (steward) our relationships?
The Hebrew greeting Shalom, commonly translated peace, embodies a rich and rewarding concept that includes being in harmony in four areas of relationship. Those areas encompass our relationship:
- With God
- With ourselves
- With others
- With our environment or life context
When we simultaneously achieve a state of harmony in each of these areas, we fully experience the peace of God that surpasses all understanding: Shalom. From here, we pass into the realm of living the abundant and joyful life promised in Scripture. A careful study of the emotion of joy in the New Testament reveals that it’s found in the context of healthy relationships where God’s love is being experienced—given and received (Philemon 1:7).
God expects us to manage our relationships and ultimately achieve peace, joy, and abundant life in those relationships.
Let’s look at the four different areas of relationship:
Peace With God
Paul reminds us that since we are justified by our faith in Christ, we have complete peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the gospel message that every pastor has a stewardship duty to faithfully teach.
But our peace with God will fly away if we ever impose a duty upon ourselves or others to perform or earn or please God with our sanctification progress. Our journey with God must constantly remain centered on his amazing grace for peace and joy to be our experience.
Our enemy constantly strives to knock us off our grace foundation, so we need to be vigilant.
Peace With Ourselves
As we allow our mind to focus on the things of the Spirit of God, we will experience abundant life and peace. On the other hand, if we allow our thoughts to dwell on the things of this world, joy will be replaced by the gloomy pallor of death, where our minds are no longer in tune with the life of God (Romans 8:6).
We must keep our minds centered on the things of God.
Peace With Others
Paul admonishes us that, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18 NASB). We are instructed to, “Work at living in peace with everyone…” (Hebrews 12:14 NLT).
Scripture is full of instruction for how believers, especially leaders, should relate to others. To enjoy success as a leader, each pastor must learn to excel in developing and maintaining healthy relationships with family, parishioners, and people in the community.
If you are struggling and out of sorts in any relationship, your peace will be disrupted.
Requesting help from others to aid you in working through unhealthy relationships is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a pastor. When you’re stuck, you should feel no shame in seeking help.
Peace With Our Life Context
As Paul expresses gratitude to the Philippians for their financial support of his ministry, he shares an important perspective that governs his life. He says, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11b-13 NLT).
For many ministry leaders and their families, living with less may be the greatest sacrifice required to fulfil God’s stewardship assignment. We must learn to accept what God provides—or else frustration and loss of peace may trouble us to the point of despair.
But peace is possible, because we can depend on Christ to provide for all of our needs.
Time for an Audit
Please carefully consider each of these four areas of relationship and evaluate your “peace” quotient in each area. Rate each area on a scale of 1-100. If any area is less than a 75, you need to focus on that area and maybe even find some resources to help restore your relationships.
Want a shortcut? The fastest way to recover your peace, joy, and sense of abundant living is to ask for help. Restore your relationships and you’ll be restored to full strength and vitality.