Ken Sande is a husband, a father, an attorney, and the founder of Peacemaker Ministries. He has written a helpful and practical guide to managing family conflicts. I’ve been using his book for some years now both for myself and in working with other families. He begins with the obvious yet unacknowledged fact that conflicts are natural even to Christian marriage and family life. What’s most important is how we respond to those conflicts. We either chose escape responses, peacemaking responses or attack responses. Thus, family peace is something we must choose. It won’t happen by accident or simply because we go to church and say our prayers. It will happen when we want it, work for it and make responsible choices to enable it. The scriptures have much to say to guide us in choosing peace making responses.
Sande’s chapters on a peace making marriage highlight the importance of confession, confrontation, forgiveness and negotiation. He richly illustrates the Biblical wisdom with real life stories from families he has personally worked with. Readers are immediately drawn in and inspired to imagine what will make for peace in their own family relationships.
Further chapters focus on teaching children to be peace makers, making peace with adult children and dealing with conflict between adult family members. These issues can be intractable and sometimes require the peace maker to accept their limitations. No one can soften another’s heart, nor can we make ourselves responsible to fix someone else’s life.
The book concludes with guidance on how and where to get help for a troubled marriage and some ways to insure the future of a healthy marriage. Perhaps the soundest and most sobering advice comes home to me personally:
“The turning point comes when we pray, ‘God please improve my marriage, starting with me.’ Although you can be an influence on your spouse, you are the only person in your marriage that you can actually change.”
Sande concludes, “Learning to be a peacemaker will help you to guard your family from destructive conflict, deepen your love and intimacy with your spouse and provide your children with a solid foundation for life. Most importantly, you can provide the world with a compelling witness to Jesus Christ’s reconciling power.”
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