A review of Ken Sande’s book: The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
I first was directed to this book three years ago in the midst of a difficult living situation (a communal living arrangement with two other Christian couples). I had hoped to work through this book with the other housemates in hopes of resolving some issues and salvaging damaged relationships. Unfortunately, we never worked through the book. Flash forward to this year, and I’m preparing to be trained as a Peacemaker, and thus need to read the book prior to the training event.
It makes me ache that our commune never availed itself of this book.
At times I think back and wonder how my life might have been different if I had been equipped in high school and college with some of the skill sets and understandings and tools that I’ve acquired over the years. As much fun as youth groups and young adult groups can be, I never learned very much through them. Off the top of my head, this book would be hands down one of the best books I could recommend for a group study for anyone high school age or older. The principles and attitudes that are espoused here – along with practical tips and processes that put them into context and practice – will benefit you and everyone you come into contact with the rest of your life. Friends, parents, spouses, co-workers, peers, colleagues, children – if there’s one skill that is missing in our culture today (Christian and otherwise) it’s how to resolve conflict, practicing confession and forgiveness with a goal of reconciliation, not simply avoidance or, worse yet, revenge.
Ken Sande has written a very compelling book that lays out the case and a methodology for Christian conflict resolution. Anyone familiar with the Bible will not likely find the contents of the book unfamiliar, but will rather feel like thwapping themselves repeatedly on the forehead with the palm of their hand for never really *seeing* the Biblical call for a proper approach to resolving conflict. At least, that’s what I have been doing and will probably continue to do for several days after reading this book.
Christians – including pastors, elders, husbands, wives, and anyone else in a position of authority in a Christian setting should read this book. Immediately. Every church should be familiar with the principles that are laid out here. This is not a silver bullet for the problems that people encounter with one another, but it offers a far more hopeful vision of resolution than what is typically considered.
Sande takes seriously the notion that Christians act differently than the rest of the world – and this holds true in the midst of conflict every bit as much as standing around a campfire singing “Kum Ba Ya”. In fact, if we fail to demonstrate the principles we sing about, it could – and ought to be – asked whether or not we really believe them. Rather than relying on pop psychology or pop sociology or pop whatever, this book takes seriously the notion that the Kingdom of God is inbreaking here and now, and that Christians are citizens of that kingdom who should strive to conduct themselves in a fitting manner.
This book has the audacity to claim that the world is not the determiner of how we conduct ourselves. That our rights are not in fact ours, but as Christians, should be properly contextualized with a constant awareness of our duty as followers of Christ. This book will sound crazy. It is. But that’s only because it takes seriously the demands – and promises – of the Bible.