Even when you manage to resolve personal offenses through confession and forgiveness, you may still need to deal with substantive issues that may involve money, property, or the exercise of certain rights. You should not sweep these issues under the carpet or automatically pass them to a higher authority. Instead, you need to negotiate them in a biblical manner.

As a general rule, try to negotiate substantive issues in a cooperative manner rather than a competitive manner. In other words, instead of aggressively pursuing your own interests and letting others look out for themselves, look for solutions that are beneficial to everyone involved.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3,4; see Matthew 7:12; 22:39; 1 Corinthians 13:5).

I summarize a biblical approach to negotiation in five basic steps I refer to as the PAUSE principle:

Prepare (pray, get the facts, seek godly counsel, develop options)

Affirm relationships (show genuine concern and respect for others)

Understand interests (identify others’ concerns, desires, needs, limitations, or fears)

Search for creative solutions (prayerfully brainstorm)

Evaluate options objectively and reasonably (do not argue)

If you have never used this approach to negotiation, it will take time and practice (and sometimes advice from others) to become proficient at it. But it is well worth the effort, because learning the PAUSE principle will help you not only to resolve your present dispute but also to negotiate more effectively in all areas of your life.

KEN SANDE, Billings, Montana