Are you a peacekeeper or peacemaker, and which one has codependent behavior? You may not have considered the difference before, but it is important. Understanding this difference can show you what to do to be free from codependency.
Peacekeeping vs. Peacemaking
Many people believe that keeping the peace is the “Christian” thing to do. They think it’s worth any cost. But this is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus tells us what responsibility we have for preserving peace. We know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). In John 14:27, he promises to give us peace that lasts, unlike the peace that the world gives. God grants the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
Jesus stated in Matt. 10:34-36 that his arrival would cause division among family members. He also wasn’t afraid to confront the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who opposed him and hated him enough to call for his death. Jesus also used a whip to drive the money changers out of the temple (Matt. 21:12).
What lies at the root of Jesus’ words and actions is a mission to promote perfect peace, regardless of whether people accepted his delivery of it. He knew the mission his Father gave him would include hatred, dissension, violence, and eventually death. But Jesus is the victor because the darkness of evil will never conquer the Prince of Peace.
As a follower of Jesus, you are called to be a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper. Peace is not the absence of conflict, the way a codependent mindset might suggest. Peacemaking will sometimes stir up conflict, but that’s not all bad if the end goal is peace.
Peacemaking God’s way is actively pursuing the restoration of God’s kingdom on earth, and that noble goal will certainly be opposed by human and spiritual forces. However, with God’s guidance, you can learn to stop pleasing people in codependency and promote peace as a peacemaker.
Why a Peacekeeper May Have Codependent Behavior
A peacekeeper may exhibit codependent behavior due to fear of conflict. This can lead to many problems, including the following:
- Anxiety or depression
- Being treated like a doormat
- Lack of confidence or self-worth
- People-pleasing tendencies
If you feel like you are striving hard for a peaceful atmosphere in your family, at work, or at church, but seeing few results for all your efforts, you may have a problem with codependency. You may also feel responsible for someone else’s feelings and actions if you are codependent. You may be afraid to rock the boat with conflict because it will upset the other person, and you will temporarily lose their love or support.
Peacekeeping rather than peacemaking can take a toll on your mental, emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual health. You were not meant to carry such a heavy burden for someone else, were never meant to manage their levels of peace. However, a caring Christian counselor can teach you peacemaking skills to empower you, strengthen you, and make you less afraid of necessary conflict.
Characteristics of a Peacemaker
While a peacemaker does not seek out conflict, they are not afraid of having necessary conflicts. Peacemakers stay self-controlled and calm during conflicts. Their role is to help others arrive at a peaceful solution. Here are several other characteristics of a peacemaker:
- Bears the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
- Listens well and shares wisdom
- Shows grace to others
- Promotes unity and reconciliation
Peacemakers will bring peace into personal conflicts they have with others. They can also serve as mediators for people engaged in other conflicts. Peacemakers trust God to guide them in their actions as they encounter difficult situations.
If you are a peacekeeper who has codependent behavior, you can become a peacemaker with the help of the Lord, and (if necessary), coaching from a qualified Christian counselor. You can gain skills to boost your confidence and help you grow to be more like Christ in your relationships.
How You Can Make Peace
there are ways to make peace instead of engaging in codependent behavior. The Bible shows us several different ways to be peacemakers. Let’s look at several Bible verses that show us how.
You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3, NIV
To be a peacemaker you must fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word. When you face anxiety or conflict, Isaiah 26:3 is a good verse to keep you on track. In the middle of conflict, you can have God’s peace when you fully trust him and keep your thoughts fixed on him. To always keep God’s peace with you, memorize this verse or save it to your phone.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15, NIV
Christians are called to promote peace with each other, especially in church. The more we spend time with God in prayer, Bible study, and worship, the more the peace of Christ will rule in our hearts. Gratitude is also a powerful way to obtain peace, and we can practice it daily instead of engaging in codependent behavior.
Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, But those who promote peace have joy. – Proverbs 12:20, NIV
You may come up against people who plot evil when you are a peacemaker. These people use deceit and other methods to stir up contention, especially in codependent relationships. But God will give you joy that doesn’t depend on your situation if you work to promote peace. You will be a light that shines in the darkness for God’s glory (Matt. 5:16) and your conscience will be clean because you are doing the right thing.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. – Ephesians 2:14, NIV
You aren’t called to generate peace all by yourself as a peacemaker. Jesus is your Prince of Peace, and you can trust him to give you peace that you can share. He longs for groups to lay aside their hostilities and become united. In your role as peacemaker, Jesus will use you to bring people together and help them understand one another from fresh perspectives.
If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18, NIV
On your journey as a peacemaker, this is an essential verse to remember. It’s not always possible to make peace, because two people are required to reconcile. You are not accountable for the other person’s responses, but you are accountable for your words and actions.
God expects you to be the one who promotes peace even if the other person does not return the favor. Another excellent example of this is in Matthew 18:15-17. Study that model and carefully follow it. If the other person doesn’t respond well to your efforts, you can have peace knowing that you’ve done everything that you could do.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:18, NIV
Turn to this encouraging verse on the days when it feels like peacemaking is difficult. You are the sower of the seed of peace, and that’s the only part for which you have responsibility. The harvest is God’s responsibility.
Someday you’ll be able to look back and see the ways that you worked in the harvest of righteousness as a seed planter. God will bless you for the seeds of peace that you planted in those difficult situations no matter how the other person responded to you.
Write out these verses so you can meditate on them regularly to strengthen your journey of peacemaking. As you work to promote peace with others, God’s word will bring you comfort and encouragement. Before entering confrontations with others, meditate on these verses to boost the confidence you can find in the Lord’s presence.
Peacemaking Help in the Midst of Codependent Behavior
Peacemaking can be a difficult process. It can be long and taxing, and you will need patience, strength, insight, and diligence for the tasks. This can be very challenging to do all by yourself. You will like benefit from the wisdom of others as you learn how they apply God’s principles in their situations.
As you put aside codependent behavior and begin your peacemaking journey, you may benefit from speaking with a Christian counselor. A counselor will give objective guidance for your situation, especially if you have dealt with codependency in the past.
You will learn how to address any weaknesses you have, practice speaking the truth in love, and role-play situations, so you are better prepared for future confrontations. Reach out today to learn how a Christian counselor can help you.
“Barrier”, Courtesy of Eric Ward, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Love,” courtesy of Mayur Gala, unsplash.com, Public Domain License “Knock Down Drag Out”, Courtesy of Afif Kusuma, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Enjoying the View”, Courtesy of Christopher Sardegna, Unsplash.com, CC0 License