Resolving Everyday Conflict (Book Review)
In Resolving Everyday Conflict Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson outline a biblical model for handling the inevitable conflict we find ourselves in with friends, family, coworkers, fellow believers, and even strangers.
The reader is shown how Scripture guides us in resolving conflicts in a way that honors God, deals with the issue, and heals (and often strengthens) the relationship.
Learn the Power of Biblical Peacemaking
Filled with Scripture passages that support the authors’ methods, Resolving Everyday Conflict does an excellent job of demonstrating the destructive potential of conflicts and the power of what the authors refer to as “peacemaking.”
Citing verses such as Ephesians 4:3, which urges believers to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” the book provides a practical approach to maintaining unity and peace in our relationships.
The authors encourage the reader to steer clear of the polarities of avoiding conflict at all costs and “winning” a conflict at all costs.
Both of these tendencies are shown to be equally selfish and unbiblical and are on opposite ends of a “slippery slope.”
For example, we should not expect to avoid ever having a conflict. This is unrealistic and to succeed in doing so would point to a different problem, namely an overdeveloped desire for comfort that will leave us with shallow, unhealthy relationships.
We should also not revel in conflict, viewing others as opponents to be overcome. This mindset looks after our own interests above others’ and leaves us with fractured relationships and a damaged witness for the Gospel.
Peacemakers see conflict as an opportunity to solve problems in a way that not only benefits everyone involved but also honors God
In place of these two flawed approaches to conflict is the middle ground of peacemaking. “Peacemakers see conflict as an opportunity to solve problems in a way that not only benefits everyone involved but also honors God” (37).
For me, the most impactful guidance in this book came in the form of four questions which we should ask ourselves when we become involved in a conflict:
1) How can I focus on God in this situation?
Every area of our life should be guided by this question, and conflict is no exception. Whether it means overlooking an offense, swallowing our pride, or entering into an uncomfortable conversation our objective should always be to glorify God.
2) How can I own my part of this conflict?
As the book states, even if you are only two percent responsible for the conflict you are still 100% responsible for your two percent (62). This mindset prevents us from becoming immovably stubborn.
We must “get the log out of our own eye” and admit how we have wronged the other person in order to own our part of the dispute.
3) How can I help others own their contribution to this conflict?
This is certainly one of the more difficult aspects of a conflict. How can we help others to see where they were wrong without causing a deeper rift?
This is partially solved by question 2, which is also a call to be the first to apologize. This helps to diffuse the situation and give more credence to your words.
After that, we should approach this delicate situation with gentleness (Galatians 6:1) and use the principles of Matthew 18, which says to first speak in private. If this does not work we then bring witnesses, and eventually bring it before the church.
4) How can I give forgiveness and help reach a reasonable solution? By this point, the question is no longer “How can I come out on top?” This step is about being reconciled to the other person, extending genuine forgiveness, and working out a solution. Obviously, this is not always easy and is certainly not guaranteed. However, resolving the conflict is the end goal.
Resolving Everyday Conflict is unique in that it builds upon a strong biblical foundation for seeking peace and unity in our relationships by providing simple, practical steps that can be taken when entering into any type of conflict.
The advice laid out in this book is not reserved for major conflicts such as lawsuits and divorce, and it is not limited to “simple” conflicts like disagreements with co-workers, a disagreement with a spouse, or roommate problems.
Instead, this text provides universal principles on how we can live out the gospel even within instances of conflict, regardless of the situation.
Everyone has conflict in their lives, even if it is only occasional. When it arises, our initial responses are often sinful and counter-productive. Whether you tend towards conflict-avoidance, like myself, or find that your gut reaction is to defend and attack, the vast majority of us could use some help in navigating disputes with other people.
Resolving Everyday Conflict provides that guidance in a clear, biblical way that reveals the value of being a peacemaker
Resolving Everyday Conflict provides that guidance in a clear, biblical way that reveals the value of being a peacemaker: when we strive to maintain peace and unity with those around us we bring glory to God, deepen our relationships, and point others to the power of the Gospel.
I would highly recommend this book for all Christians, especially those in the ministry. In it you will find a framework that helps you to more effectively mediate conflict between others as well as resolve those that we are involved in yourselves.
Interested in learning more? Purchase Resolving Everyday Conflict or check out the larger, more in-depth treatment of this topic in The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.