"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness,
how can you make it salty again?
Have salt in yourselves,
and be at peace with each other."
It is interesting that salt and peace are linked in this teaching. Salt is a mineral that is useful as it not only preserves food but it also enhances the flavor of food. Looking at the salt metaphor and relating it to constructive relationships, Dr. Tim Geddert writes, “This saying is a call to be genuine, the real thing, the kind of disciple that preserves and enhances the community.”
The twelfth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Roman followers of Jesus is one of those classic passages of scripture that speaks into our everyday relational lives. The teachings that strike me the most in this passage are Paul’s reflections of life in a redemptive faith community. While he writes about how to live with each other and the connectedness of community, he also places a responsibility on each and every member of the community when he writes, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” We may see in this verse a loop-hole and declare,
“It is not possible! Peace is not possible because the other person is evil, won’t cooperate, and only wants to argue and win. They are out to control me and to destroy me!”
But notice the possibility of peace does not hinge on the other person; it depends on you and me and our willingness to be at peace with one another.
So, what needs to happen when the other parties just won’t cooperate? Are there resources available? How do you know you are doing everything possible to live at peace with this other person?
Besides my work as a mediator addressing interpersonal conflict and facilitating reconciliation for two or more people, I am increasingly called on to work with just one person and to help them constructively deal with the conflict they are experiencing. This is called Conflict Coaching (CC). CC is a process in which the individual and I communicate one-on-one for the purpose of
- developing the individual’s understanding of the conflict;
- determining what they can constructively do about it;
- and empowering them with effective relational skills.
CC is available when the other parties won’t engage in a mediation or reject a personal invitation to come together to talk through hurts and/or disagreements.
CC is available for those who want to be the kind of "salty" person that preserves and enhances the possibility of peace, i.e. “salt” for a positive change in a broken relationship.