A couple years ago, one of our congregants generously offered to do some StrengthsFinder work with Rob and me. We each had to take an extensive survey, and then we met with her to better understand our strengths. The results of the survey showed that my main strength is “harmony.” I learned that means I am likely to be a good facilitator and negotiator because I am able to see both sides of a situation. I am also able to help people arrive at consensus.
I was not surprised by that result. I do like to live my life in harmony, and to help those around me be in harmony as well. However, I also learned that having a strength of harmony can mean that I tend to be non-confrontational and avoid conflict. Sometimes, that can be a good thing. If there are ways to work things out harmoniously in order to avoid conflict, I will always try that first.
One thing I have learned from Jesus, though, is that sometimes conflict is necessary. Though Jesus lived his life in harmony much of the time, he was never afraid to stand up for what he felt was important. If someone was being mistreated, Jesus spoke up. When he felt the Pharisees were not living as God called them to live, he called them out. If putting an end to injustice meant creating a little conflict, Jesus did not back down from the conflict.
During Advent, we often hear bold passages from the prophets calling for peace and justice. Often, this can be achieved harmoniously. But when it cannot, I hope that I will confidently follow my call as a disciple and stand up for the oppressed and the overlooked.