Explore God’s peacemaking promises and commands that lead to settled conflicts between husbands and wives, parents and children, and extended families.
How do we handle conflict in our marriages and families? In their book, Peacemaking for Families: A Biblical Guide to Managing Conflict in Your Home, Ken Sande and Tom Raabe provide a detailed discussion and a biblical framework for how to resolve conflicts in the family. This book builds off the work that Sande presented in The Peacemaker, where he shows how the Scriptures help believers to resolve conflict. The first book’s scope for discussing conflict resolution was expansive, covering the family, the workplace, the church, and the courtroom. Peacemaking for Families narrows the focus to the home.
The authors have organized the book into four main sections. The first section lays a foundation for peacemaking, showing the reader how to get to the heart of the problem. The second section narrows the focus to conflicts within marriage and shows how the foundational principles for conflict resolution apply in the home. The third section illustrates how peacemaking happens between parents and children. The final section focuses on conflicts that are more difficult than average. Sande and Raabe also include a helpful section in chapter 12 that outlines how a couple can proactively set the stage for dealing with conflict before the trouble arises.
The authors give several models throughout the book that help the reader work through various aspects of reconciliation. For example, they employ the PAUSE principle for cooperative negotiation: prepare; affirm relationships; understand interests; search for creative solutions; and evaluate options objectively and reasonably. One of the most helpful sections is their chapter on confession. In this chapter, the authors walk the reader through what a biblical confession should look like, by giving seven A’s of confession: address everyone involved; avoid if, but, and maybe; admit specifically; apologize; accept the consequences; alter your behavior; ask forgiveness, and allow time. This model prompts the reader to own responsibility for their sin, admit specifically, accept the consequences, and pursue genuine change.
Some people like to pursue conflict resolution by pointing the finger at the other person. There is an appropriate place for showing a brother his sin, but Sande and Raabe begin where the Scriptures do—by pointing the finger at the reader. What desires are controlling you? What idols have you set up that need to be torn down and repented of? What beam do you have in your own eye? What things do you need to repent of? Conflict resolution starts with looking to God and His glory, getting the log out of one’s eye, showing one’s brother his faults, and then seeking reconciliation. The order is critical.
Filled with real-life examples both from Sande’s life and from the lives of others, Peacemaking for Families makes for an engaging journey for the reader. Whatever concept the authors present, they explain, illustrate, and apply it to the reader. Each chapter concludes with probing questions to help the reader grow, followed by recommended resources if a person wants to dig deeper. If you have a sin nature and are involved in relationships, you will have conflict. Whether you are a spouse, a parent, a pastor, or young adult, this book is designed to help you to resolve conflict as God designed, and to develop skills in helping other people do the same.
- “In order to break free from the pattern they have fallen into, they need to understand why they react to conflict the way that they do” (page 16).
- “It is often not what we want that is the problem, but that we want it too much” (page 19).
- “Idols always demand sacrifices. When others fail to satisfy our demands and expectations, our idols demand that they should suffer. Whether deliberately or unconsciously, we will find ways to hurt or punish people so they will give in to our desires” (page 22).
- “There is only one way out of this bondage [to our own idols] and judgment: It is to look to God Himself, who loves to deliver people from their idols” (page 25).
- “Forgiveness…is not forgetting—God does not passively forget our sins; He actively chooses not to remember them” (pages 40–41).
- “Because Christians are the most forgiven people in the world, we should be the most forgiving people in the world as well” (page 83).
- “The governing principle in solving conflicts with others is that confession leads to forgiveness” (page 156).