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King George III and the British Parliament received a formal request by the First Continental Congress of America. The Congress had met in Philadelphia at the Carpenter’s Hall on Sept. 5, 1774. This first congress addressed representation possibilities in light of rising concerns over things like regulating colonial trade, etc. They weren’t considering independence but rather they wanted to represent a unified voice to gain a hearing in London.

It should have been so easy for the king and the Parliament to have seen this as a time for building bridges rather than building fences. Instead, within months, tensions were inflamed when British forces blockaded Boston Harbor and engaged colonial militia in battles at Lexington and Concord. Leaders who discover that a simmering fire has begun on their watch should respond with water—not with gasoline! The book of Ephesians is clear that Christian leaders are to “labor” to keep the unity among us.

Disagreements can arise over style, decisions, direction and a number of other issues. Engaging the issues with humility and transparency can move us to common ground. An individual’s willingness to admit where he or she was wrong or has failed is paramount to gaining trust in moving forward! Both resistance to addressing the issues and responding with a display of authority can easily inflame—rather than resolve—the issue.

Ultimately, one of the most important keys to moving forward together is whether the offended parties are indeed looking for common ground, or are merely seeking a justifiable reason for independence or rebellion. Christ took away all our excuses by taking the blame for it all. He set an amazing example for all of us who are leaders. We should do the same! Go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, respond to evil with good, bless those who curse you, pray for those who use you, and forgive those who hurt you.

Are you building bridges or fences? Are you adding water or gasoline?

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them … but love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” Luke 6:32, 35 (NIV)

By: Glenn Burris Jr., general supervisor

served as the president of The Foursquare Church from 2009-2020.