In mediation we bring together parties who find their interests, intentions, desires, and needs colliding. The mediator facilitates a conversation and a negotiation, seeking a satisfactory path to a shared future.

Mediators encourage parties to detach from emotional anchors that keep them tethered to past narratives. We assist the parties as they craft revised narratives that align their interests, intentions, desires, and needs, allowing them to move forward into the future without harming one another. In collaborative problem solving we seek to bring about consensus regarding mutual satisfaction of party needs.

Through collaborative negotiation, Party A discovers or creates ways to satisfy the needs of Party B; likewise, Party B discovers or creates solutions that satisfy the needs of Party A. This interest-based or principle-based mediation, championed by Fisher and Ury in Getting to Yes has become standard protocol in the mediation field. As a result, parties who previously faced painful and tedious litigation found greater satisfaction thanks to the emerging Alternative Dispute Resolution movement.

In faith-based mediation we employ a model that goes deeper. We consider the invisible stakeholder at the table: we recognize solutions must align with God’s will. In this model, creative problem solving not only results in parties satisfying their respective interests — solutions take into account the will of God. We seek what we might call divine collaboration.

This model is theologically grounded. In the Garden of Eden the serpent sabotages Man’s relationship with God. Mankind slips into a fallen world in which brother fights brother, and man fights woman. They suffer from non-aligned intentions. Their free wills no longer align with God’s will.

If we graph free will in a fallen world, our intentions resemble billiard balls flying in random directions, often colliding and giving rise to conflict. In standard mediation we work with parties whose intentions have collided; we help them realign their exercise of free will so they can proceed without further collisions.

In mediation with a spiritual foundation we seek a common standard with which to align wills; that standard is God’s will. Thus, Divine Providence plays a new and important role. We reconcile Man with God at the same time we reconcile Brother with Brother.

We consider how possible solutions on the table appear from God’s perspective. Using scripture, tradition, spiritual direction, religious education, prayer and other faith-based tools we discern God’s will. This approach produces more enduring outcomes than those achieved in standard mediation, which endure better than litigation outcomes.

These are some of the features of the Taming the Wolf paradigm from which a new definition of mediation emerges: “The art of restoring harmony by restoring unity in the presence of the Holy Spirit.”