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De-Escalation in the Bible

Often times when we talk to churches about the importance of “always training” they inquire as to the most important aspect of training or topic to train their team on. In our book 4 Pillars of Church Safety and Security, we divide out priorities and highlight what to consider when assessing which is important. You are welcome to get a copy here: . One of the most important types of training that you or your team can do is stress inoculation and understanding how to process that stress. Not only does the training help you develop your personal skills, but it gives you the opportunity to be calm and respond appropriately in a church or ministry setting. It helps you think clearly and take intentional steps to effectively resolve conflict. De-Escalation is a Biblical concept and while it is demonstrated throughout the Bible, here are a few thoughts on de-escalation from a Biblical perspective.

De-escalation, or the act of bringing a tense and potentially violent conflict to a more peaceful resolution, is a concept that appears in various parts of the Bible. While a great deal of attention is given to the assumed violence in some of the Bible’s stories, it is important to remember that the Bible also contains important lessons about de-escalation and resolution.

The most famous example of de-escalation comes from the story of Joseph and his brothers. After Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and lied to their father about his whereabouts, Joseph is eventually found and put into a position of power in Egypt. Years later, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt seeking food due to a famine, and Joseph reveals his identity to them. Although terrified, Joseph refrains from avenging the wrongs that his brothers had committed against him and instead opts to de-escalate the situation by embracing them and inviting them to stay in Egypt. Here, Joseph is a model of de-escalation as he chooses not to reward violence with violence, but rather to forgive and show love.

De-escalation is also a prominent theme in the story of Abraham and Lot. In the story, Abraham and Lot are cousins who have both become wealthy, and have too much livestock for their lands to support. In order to prevent a fight from occurring between their servants, Lot graciously offers to separate from Abraham and take the land to the east of Abraham’s land. Abraham, although he certainly would have been justified in demanding that the land be divided differently, graciously allows Lot the land first and shows a remarkable level of self-control and de-escalation.

Finally, de-escalation plays a large role in the story of Esther. In this story, Esther is a Jewish woman who is chosen to become the new Queen of Persia. When her people are threatened by the villain of the story, Haman, Esther initially ignores the threats and opts instead to de-escalate the situation. She chooses to hold a banquet in which the truth can be revealed in a peaceful way and opts to use her influence as Queen to help those she loves. Here, Esther’s calm and peaceful response is seen as a model for de-escalation.

De-escalation is an important theme throughout the Bible, and provides us with an important reminder that violence is not always the answer to conflict. Rather, the Bible shows us that by exhibiting patience, courage, and grace, de-escalating a situation is possible, and often leads to much better outcomes.

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