Choosing Your Battles

by | Jun 12, 2022

Persuading people is tricky. We all have convictions that we believe would benefit others if they agreed with us. To make that happen, we persuade. But persuasion doesn’t usually happen in one conversation, so this is a post to remind us to keep the long view in mind as we engage within the body of Christ. Here are a few things to keep in mind in Choosing Your Battles as we have difficult conversations over long periods of time:

 

1. Don’t Insist on Specialized Language

In any large, complicated issue, there are intricacies, details, and nuances of language that most people miss. If you know about an issue and the person to whom you are talking does not, you will know specialized words with precise meanings which may be unfamiliar or misunderstood. But love does not insist on its own way (1 Corinthians 13:5). In nearly every case, a conversation can be had without this specialized language, or at least by clearly explaining what your words mean.

Flexibility in this area does two things. The first is that you lower the barrier for entry into the conversation. By working a little harder to communicate the same thoughts with accessible words, you love your brothers and sisters and allow more Spirit-filled voices to speak without a shared specialized lexicon. The second is that you are not persuading someone to use your definition of a word in order to persuade them of an even bigger, more important idea. You don’t have to have multiple disagreements at once. Which leads to our second point:

 

2. Clearly Separate Areas of Disagreement

Sometimes on your way to making your point you will discover that you and your friend disagree about something else along the way. That’s OK. You don’t have to make every argument every time. Using common language can help with this. So can discipline to avoid distraction and charity to not be threatened by disagreement. Separating arguments allows us to disagree at points and agree at others. Do we all need to agree on the definition of white privilege before we can talk through cultural elements in our worship service? I say no.

The inverse is thinking we have to agree on everything before we can agree on anything. That is not helpful. Allowing for charity in some disagreements allows for progress on others. It takes wisdom to know where to overlook an offense and when to confront (Proverbs 19:11; 12:1). This is all the more reason to pray (James 1:5).

 

3. Spend Relational Capital Wisely

I hope you have a friend who can say anything to you. A friend who has been so faithful over the years who has earned the right to say hard things to you, even if you don’t want to hear it. That’s what I mean by relational capital. If your friend says something hard to you, they spend relational capital that they’ve built up over years of faithfulness.

In the context of friendship, disagreement can take a toll. There is a reason Scripture tells us that confronting the wayward should be done by those who are spiritual and in meekness (Galatians 6:1). If you become a friend who picks every argument and can’t let anything go, you will quickly find yourself without any relational capital to spend. But by demonstrating faithfulness in friendship and charity in disagreement wherever you can, you can build up capital to spend in ways that can make a difference.

 

These three tips are by no means all there is to say about disagreeing charitably over long periods of time. But they are a helpful starting point. God help us as we sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).

 

Published August 10, 2021

 


Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray that God makes you the kind of friend who can say hard things when needed.
  2. Pray for the wisdom to know when to speak and when to overlook.
  3. Pray that God’s people would agree in the Lord even when we disagree about other matters.

 

Recent POdcasts

Transracial Adoption with Brittany Salmon

Transracial Adoption with Brittany Salmon

Transracial Adoption Brittany Salmon is a scholar and author of It Takes More than Love: A Christian Guide to Navigating the Complexities of Cross-Cultural Adoption (Moody, 2022). She is also the adoptive mother to three children who do not share her ethnicity, so her...

read more
Biblical Theology: Minor Prophets | God’s Mercy

Biblical Theology: Minor Prophets | God’s Mercy

Biblical Theology: Minor Prophets | God's Mercy We're back in our Bible study series with Adrianna Anderson. Today we look at the minor prophets, where we see a fuller picture of God's mercy to His people, Israel, and to the nations. There are plenty of sober warnings...

read more
Raising the Next Generation

Raising the Next Generation

Raising the Next Generation | Parenting Few things are as difficult as parenting. If you desire to raise your kids to be agents of unity among God's people, it is even harder. Josh Chatman, host of the Train 'em Up podcast stops by to talk about parenting. Austin and...

read more

Upcoming Events

Isaac-Adams-United-We-Pray-speaking-at-an-event

Click Here to View Now

Recent Articles

Confidence in the Wrong Place

Confidence in the Wrong Place

In 1908, G.K. Chesterton warned Christian readers that various influences were eroding society’s ability to learn:  But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. . . . A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this...

read more
Memorial Day: Remembering vs. Not Forgetting

Memorial Day: Remembering vs. Not Forgetting

What’s the difference between remembering and not forgetting? That’s the question I started asking myself as I thought about Memorial Day. I forget an awful lot of things. For example: usernames and passwords. Ever forget either of these (don’t say you forget both) to...

read more
Presidents’ Day and Godly Authority

Presidents’ Day and Godly Authority

On Monday, our nation observed Presidents’ Day. This holiday gives us an opportunity to honor the role and office of President in our country. It also serves as an opportunity to reflect how we as Christians can pray for those who represent us as citizen servants in...

read more

We’d love to hear what you think about this article. Submit your feedback by clicking here to contact us.

Author

  • Austin Suter

    Austin is the executive director and editor for U?WP. He is a husband, father and seminary student at RTS Charlotte. Austin is a member at Iron City Church in Birmingham, AL. @amsuter

Related Articles

Stay Connected