Starting with his Introduction, Ken Sande makes it plain that Resolving Everyday Conflict will distill principles from his classic book The Peacemaker. “Since you picked up this book, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing some conflict in your life. Welcome to the club!” He adds, “If you find the principles in this book helpful and want to dig deeper on specific peacemaking issues, read my book The Peacemaker.”
Some books with this purpose end up watering down a classic or making the simple simplistic. Not so Resolving Everyday Conflict. Sande and his co-author, Kevin Johnson, provide their readers with a focused, robust biblical examination of peacemaking. They start with a gospel-centered definition: “Peacemaking is applying the gospel and God’s principles for problem solving to everyday life.”
Sande and Johnson help readers to approach conflict as an opportunity to make relationships closer and stronger, and, as they put it, “best of all—to please and honor God.” Please and honor God? Let’s be honest, that’s not normally the first thing we think about when conflict strikes. Our chief goal in conflict is often to please and honor self. God is barely in the picture.
To walk with readers on a journey from a focus on self to a focus on God’s glory, the authors start with a very helpful word picture developed from James 4:1-2: spark, gasoline, fire.
- People are different and often want different things: the spark of conflict.
- Differences get worse when sinful selfishness and pride drive our reactions: the gasoline of conflict.
- Destruction results when we fail to respond properly and allow our sinful desires to drive our words and actions: the fire of conflict.
Any honest person has to say, “Yep. Been there. Done that. That’s me. Now what?”
For many of us, the “what” of “now what?” becomes “solution-focused” and oriented toward self-sufficiency. Sande and Johnson teach that the “what” involves becoming “soul-u-tion-focused” and Christ-sufficient.
They put it clearly and bluntly, “the gospel is God’s power for peacemaking.” More than a ticket to heaven, the gospel is God’s transforming power for every area of life, for every relationship—including relationships in conflict.
Having set the gospel stage, the authors use the rest of the book to put in bite-size-chunks the classic principles of Sande’s biblical peacemaking model:
- Responses to Conflict: Escaping, Attacking, or Peacemaking
- The 4Gs of Peacemaking: Glorify God, Get the Log Out, Gently Restore, Go and Be Reconciled.
Those points have always been worth the proverbial price of The Peacemaker and they’re worth the price of Resolving Everyday Conflict.
Because the book’s purpose is to distill practical principles, I feared that it might leave the reader with the impression that, “Do X (the 4Gs) and Y (reconciliation) always occurs.” Seasoned conciliators, Sande and Johnson were too wise to do so. In their final chapter, they candidly address what happens when peace does not come. “When we can’t resolve conflict, we face an enormous temptation to take matters into our own hands.” The rest of this chapter provides insightful biblical wisdom for addressing just such a situation and just such a temptation.
In each chapter, the authors provide a few periodic “think and talk” questions that help readers to probe and apply biblical principles of peacemaking. A very brief appendix also provides a few questions for reflection and discussion. For more detailed application, the authors direct readers to The Peacemaker, to their website (www.Peacemaker.net), and to an eight-week DVD study for groups (which, from the promo, appears to be an excellent resource).
Since Resolving Everyday Conflict is designed as such a practical book, and since the book may be the only resource some people choose to use, it could have been strengthened by a more robust built-in study/discussion guide. It would be the ideal all-in-one, user-friendly guide for biblical conflict resolution in everyday life.
That said, it is still an excellent resource that I highly recommend for anyone seeking a practical, biblical resource for resolving everyday conflict. Just be sure to purchase the DVD.