1. Don't Take the Bait
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Simply put, avoid quarrels or debates. Keep your thoughts to yourself if you know they won't effectively help anyone or change anything except the tension in the room. Don't contribute your words to an emotionally sinking ship of hurt and argument.
Proverbs tells us:
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. Proverbs 17:14
And again reiterates the idea a few chapters later:
Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel. Proverbs 20:3
Paul warned Timothy of similar concerns:
But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23
What we all need is the wisdom to know when a conversation is mere foolishness and when engaging in debate will fruitfully and effectively "take thoughts captive" to the truth, as Paul instructed us to do (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Regarding church-related conflicts, one thing that has helped me know if something is worth the conflict is to ask, "Does anyone's salvation hinge on this?" If the issue isn't eternal, it is often just plain foolish to engage in it. The kind of flowers used for the women's ministry - yup, not eternal. The organization of the church kitchen, bingo! Also, not eternal. The logo for a retreat, also, probably not eternal (although I do highly value the impact of art in ministry). A thousand things relating to church ministry are simply not lasting, but the words we speak and the conflicts we engage in will last.
In a ministry basics class in seminary, I remember our professor sharing a story about a dear friend who burnt out in ministry because of the constant conflict. The church structure required every decision to be voted on. It was a poor setup, which was the point of the lesson. But also, the dynamic of the church had denigrated to a toxic place where no one cared about anyone else feeling heard. They just wanted to "win" the vote. After his doctor told him his heart couldn't take the stress anymore, the man left the ministry. The church relationships had gotten lost in a sea of un-eternal issues. And all of us are susceptible to the same if we aren't diligent about checking our hearts.
This can carry into our homes and other relationships as well. Does the issue we disagree on have any eternal value? If yes, it might not be foolish to share our thoughts prayerfully. If it has no lasting value, save your energy for bigger things! Don't engage in stuff that is less than your calling.
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