Servanthood, the first behavior, means to love one another and ourselves as God loves us. We see Jesus’ own loving servanthood in the ways he behaved during the time he spent with us on earth. Concern for and acting on the needs of a loved one demonstrate the behavior of love.
The forgiveness Jesus modeled and talked about provides another behavior that directly counters conflict and stress. We face harm from someone in the course of each day—whether through a verbal put-down, forgetfulness, ignorance of our needs, a disdainful look, flagrant lack of cooperation, lies, and countless other ways. People do not always meet our needs in a loving way—whether intentionally or unintentionally. Our responsibility in these situations lies in returning the harm done to us by restoring the presence of love.
Like the father of the prodigal son in one of Jesus’ parable (Luke 15), our response to harm should be a response of love. We find a way to “throw a party” for those who have harmed us. We listen and respond to their needs. From a behavioral standpoint, forgiveness works in a practical way by building up the relationship of love that another person has broken by harming us.
The third behavior of Jesus—the use of our intellect—logically and psychologically counteracts conflict and stress. When we practice forgiveness as described above, we may need to balance the love we have for the person who has harmed us with the recognition that we have a right to walk away from the negative behavior. Our intellect—our power to arrive at truth in solving life’s situations—needs to come into play when we’re called to achieve this kind of balance in our interactions with others.
The fourth behavior of Jesus that naturally helps resist and conquer conflict and stress is speaking out. Even if we are trying to listen to and respond to the needs of others, and even if we are practicing loving forgiveness for harms done, we still may not make headway in dealing with the conflict and stress that comes from our relationships. So we must use this final behavior of speaking out in defense of our own needs and the needs of others. When the first three solutions fail to resolve conflict and stress, we can speak out so our needs or the needs of others stand a better chance of being responded to.
Though Jesus has many other behaviors for us to model, these four taken together provide an ideal package for dealing with daily life at home and at work.