See Puritan Help for 21st Century Conflict (Part 2). The following excerpts on how to cultivate peace and deal with conflict are from Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory.
9. Buy Peace
Buy peace at the price of any thing which is not better than it.
You must often part with your right for peace, and to put up wrongs in word or deed. Money must not be thought too dear to buy it, when the loss of it will be worse than the loss of money….
He is no friend of peace, that will no have it except when it is cheap.
10. Watch Your Criticism
Avoid censoriousness [i.e. the tendency to be overly critical] which is the judging of people or matters that you have no call to meddle with, and the making of matters worse than sufficient proof will warrant you.
Censorious persons are the great dividers of the church, and everywhere adversaries to peace while they open their mouths wide against their neighbors, to make the worst of all that they say and do, and thus sow the seeds of discord amongst all.
11. Be Upfront
Neither talk against people behind their backs, nor patiently hearken to them that use it.
If you have anything to say against your neighbor, tell it to him in a friendly manner to his face, that he may be the better for it. If you tell it only to another, to make him odious, to listen to backbiters that defame people secretly, you show that your business is not to do good, but to diminish love and peace.
12. Emphasize the Good
Speak more of the good than of the evil which is in others.
There are none so bad as to have no good in them. Why don’t you mention that which is more useful to the hearer than to hear of someone’s faults?
13. Know Your Neighbor
Don’t be strangers, but instead be lovingly familiar with your neighbors.
Among any honest, well-meaning persons, familiarity is a great reconciler.
It is nearness that must make them friends.
14. (Don’t) Keep Your Distance
Come as near to them as you can. Don’t run away from them, lest you run towards the opposite extreme.
15. Be Flexible
Don’t be overly stiff in your own opinions, as those that can yield in nothing to another. Nor yet so facile and yielding as to betray or lose the truth.
It greatly pleases a proud person’s mind when you seem to be convinced by him, and to change your mind because of his arguments, or to be much informed and edified by him. But when you deny this honor to his understanding, and contradict him, and stiffly maintain your opinion against him, you displease and lose him.
A wise person should gladly learn of any that can teach him more, and should most easily, more than anyone else, let go of an error. And he will be most thankful to anyone that will increase his knowledge–not only in errors to change one’s mind, but in small and indifferent things to submit to silence, is typical of a modest, peaceable person.
16. Wage War
Impiis me diis ecclesiae paci condulere, was one of the three means which Luther foretold would cast out the gospel. [And if you can translate that into Latin, have at it!]
**Monday’s post: Preparing for Advent