Be a Fool for Christ.

At first glance, it seems like the Bible puts a significant emphasis on avoiding conflict.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:23–24) 

“Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” (Titus 3:9) 

But a closer look reveals that Scripture is actually identifying the kinds of conflicts to avoid. That is, we should avoid arguments that are foolish, unkind, resentful, hinder teaching, or nitpick Levitical law.

Writing my new book, Don’t Take the Bait to Escalate: Conflict is Inevitable. Being a Jerk is Optional, I discovered that, in many cases, conflict is a good thing.  Examples:

  • When I lead marriage retreats, I often hear stories of long-married couples who endured a season when they “hit bottom” which ultimately made their marriages stronger.  (Rita and me, for example!)
  • Two high school ballplayers vying to earn the starting shortstop position will work harder and build their skills. Plus, through that competitive conflict, they probably become best friends. (I’ve seen that, too!)
  • The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis almost led to World War III. But dealing with that conflict led to the infamous “hotline” between the White House and the Kremlin helping diffuse the Cold War and avert nuclear holocaust. (Although, I’m pretty sure Biden and Putin aren’t chatting.)
  • Negotiations between Union Auto Workers and the Big Three Automakers can get contentious. But fair contracts and well-built cars are the result. (At least, that’s what my friend, Mike, told me!)

Without conflict there would never be any heroes, mentors, compromise, empathy, rules, or apologies. All good things!

Conflict enables us to persevere in our faith! James 1:2-3 tells us to Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
 
Facing a conflict? Take note of these Four Factors as you consider your next move:

  1. Decide what you really want
  2. Know the risks 
  3. Empathize with your adversary 
  4. Expect the win

The book shares more than 20 examples of how the Four Factors apply to conflicts on the job, in families, at church, with neighbors, and with any Pharisees, bridezillas, or car salesmen you may encounter. You’ll thank me later.

In the meantime, celebrate April Fool’s Day—not by being a jerk—but by being a fool for Christ. You gotta love 1 Corinthians 3:18-19, Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

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