Peacemaking and Home Schooling
- Annette Friesen Home-School Specialist for Peacemaker Ministries
- 2001 12 Dec
Make every effort to live at peace with all men. Hebrews 12:14a
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
As Christian home schoolers my husband and I take seriously Gods call to live at peace with others. We always have, but it hasnt always been easy. When Rick and I began home schooling in 1984, pursuing peace with those who wanted to make home schooling illegal--or at least very difficult--led more often to adversarial relationships than it did to peaceful ones. Over the years, however, we have seen the tables turn. Through the efforts of many, home schooling is not only accepted now, but often we are considered some kind of saint for having the patience and fortitude to stay home and teach children all day!
And yet our responses to those who question our home schooling can still be adversarial in nature. Home schoolers are wonderful and unique, but perhaps the long years of battle have left us more willing to fight than to pursue peace. I have seen this tendency in myself! Even though all our home school battles are not yet won, we can choose to see our home schooling differently. In Second Corinthians Paul says, And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:19b-20a). As ambassadors for Christ who home school, we can deliver the gospel of peace. We can do this by learning to respond to our conflicts biblically.
As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict. So begins the Peacemakers Pledge, which beautifully states a Christians commitment to being a peacemaker. (For the full text of the Pledge, visit www.HisPeace.org.) So I have to ask myself, how do I respond to conflict, and is my response a godly one?
In order to learn how to respond to conflict biblically, I need to understand what conflict is. In his book, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, Ken Sande defines conflict as a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someones goals or desires. This definition includes large conflicts like lawsuits and the little conflicts we encounter every day.
For example, in my own life the adversarial approach reasserted itself the other day when I caused a conflict with Rick. We were having a small support group leaders meeting. As we were finishing it, Rick, who is our organizations president, mentioned that due to the time we would have to forgo what I was going to say (which could have waited and wasnt that important). He had previously told me that this might happen. Yet without thinking, I jumped up and asked him, May I have a few minutes? Without waiting for an answer I began talking. I was so focused on what I wanted to say that I didnt give any regard to his leadership or his desire to finish the meeting. Our desires had become diametrically opposed.
Later Rick confronted me with this and I reacted defensively, justifying my action and even pointing out some of his faults, as if this would strengthen my case. But instead of bringing about a reconciliation, I escalated the problem. God worked on my heart, though, and I was humbled to realize how I had violated Philippians 2:4 Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. I had only been concerned about achieving my own desire and had not given any thought to Ricks interests. It was not easy to confess to him what I had done, without excusing it, and to ask his forgiveness. But as I confessed to him that I had not put his interests first and had dishonored him and God, Rick immediately forgave me. I was humbled by his forgiveness and grateful that obeying God had brought peace.
The Peacemakers Pledge continues, We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ. Focusing on these opportunities is very reassuring. God has a plan for each conflict if we will trust Him and follow His instructions. We can begin by choosing to respond to all our conflicts biblically. To see what this looks like, read Peacemaker Ministries simple Four Gs:
Glorify God Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will seek to please and honor God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
Get the Log Out of Your Own Eye Instead of attacking others or dwelling on their wrongs, we will take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts. (Matt. 7:3)
Go and Show Your Brother His Fault Instead of pretending that conflict doesnt exist or talking about others behind their backs, we will choose to overlook minor offenses or we will talk directly and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook. (Matt. 18:15)
Go and Be Reconciled Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation. (Matt. 5:23-24)
The Peacemakers Pledge ends this way, We will remember that success, in Gods eyes, is not a matter of specific results, but of faithful, dependent obedience. And we pray that our service as peacemakers brings praise to our Lord and leads others to know His infinite love. Whether our conflicts arise at home, in church, or in the community, whether they are home school-related or not, we have an opportunity to be ambassadors for Christ, with the message of reconciliation. I am committed to responding to conflict biblically. Will you join me?
Annette Friesen is the Home School Specialist for Peacemaker® Ministries, an international ministry committed to equipping and assisting Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically. Annette and Rick homeschooled their three children all through their school years. Currently they are serving on the board of the Utah Christian Home School Association.