The Young Peace Maker’s class continues at our homeshooling co-op. As we progress through the material, I often wonder if we are reaching the children’s hearts. The class is full and the kids appear to have a great time. They recite their weekly memory verse, answer questions as best they can, engage in discussion, and beg to be in the weekly skits.
Daniel sits in class.
But, I ask myself, are they learning anything? Is any of the discussion about choices and consequences sinking in? Are they absorbing the lessons? Will this make a difference in their life? Are they beginning to recognize the different ways people respond to conflict?
The questions plague me in particular because two of my five children are members of the class, two that are constantly battling to get along. I desire for my children to learn how to respond to conflict in a godly way. I long for them to grow in wisdom. I agree with author, Corlette Sande, that conflict can become an opportunity to please and honor God, to serve other people, and to grow to be more like Christ.
I don’t want my children to simply gain communication and problem-solving skills, I yearn for them to take responsibility for their wrongs, express sorrow for hurting others, and commit themselves to forgive one another as God has forgiven them.
If I can help them understand the root causes of their conflicts (pride, selfishness, greed, unforgiveness, etc) and encourage them to ask God to free them from these sinful attitudes, I will be helping them to become true Peace Makers.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Every single day my children have ample opportunity to respond to conflict. Conflict abounds in my family. Unfortunate but true. I’m afraid a bunch of sinners lives in my home (and I’m one of them!). Some form of dissonance or conflict is always ready to spring forth – from lips that speak angrily, from arms that push and shove, from countenances that darken, or from offenses easily taken.
Silence is easy – I can tell my children to be silent and the house will be quiet. I don’t want simply a hushed atmosphere, I crave a peaceful home where love abounds more than contention, where grace, patience and joy are the defining characteristics. The stakes are high!
I guess they are quiet SOME of the time.
This week, in class, we studied the 5 A’s of responding to conflict.
1) Admit – admit what you did wrong, take ownership or responsibility for your attitudes and choices
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
2) Apologize – “I am sorry for … ”
3) Accept – accept the consequences for your choices, understand that there is a need for restitution, or making right what you did wrong.
4) Ask – ask for forgiveness. This is beyond apologizing, it is asking the person to accept your apology and forgive you. It shows you are seeking to restore the relationship and seek reconciliation.
5) Alter – alter your choices in the future. Tell others how you want to change, pray that God will give you the heart and will to do so.
Rachel and some other girls act out a conflict and the 5 A’s.
This morning Daniel and David woke up early and decided racing up and down the stairs (sometimes on their knees) would be a fun way to entertain themselves. As Saturday is Tim’s only day to sleep in (and he is consistently short on sleep) this turned out to be a bad choice. Both boys were punished and received lectures on respect for others and being quiet on Saturday mornings.
Afterward I happened to mention to Daniel that he should use the 5 A’s from our PeaceMaker’s Class. I must admit I had little hope that Daniel would know what I was talking about, much less be able to pull back any of the information from our study on the subject. To my great delight and surprise, he immediately rattled off all 5 of the A’s (in order). I was stunned. He was listening! He remembered! It had been a whole day and the information was still there, fresh in his memory. I decided to go further (why not live dangerously!) and asked him to apply the 5 A’s to his situation.
Again he surprised and pleased me. He admitted that he was wrong to be so noisy in the morning. He apologized. He said he accepted the punishment we gave him. He asked for forgiveness and then said he would try to be quiet and respectful next time.
To see understanding and application in a child who struggles dearly with authority and bristles under rebuke, was a beautiful gift from the Lord. It gave me tremendous hope and joy and encouraged me to persevere in this study. I need to model and practice these 5 A’s until the children thoroughly comprehend and internalize them.
Did I already mention that this study is as convicting, if not MORE, for the teachers as it is the students? Almost every week Lisa (my co-teacher) and I comment on how much we are learning in teaching this class and how challenged we are to live out these principles. If we can share even a portion of this with our children and the other kids at co-op, they will be mightily blessed and enriched.
Today, in our Proverbs study we read about the value of wisdom.
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who embrace her;those who lay hold of her will be blessed. Proverbs 3:14-18
These are the riches I want for my children.