It would be hard to pick better last words than “I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.” Paul the Apostle wrote them to his friend and mentee Timothy, as he was about to be executed for preaching the Gospel. Here is a good question to ask: What is a good fight? Also, if there is a “good” fight, I guess we can imply that there are “bad fights” too, right?
Leadership and Relationships
The reality is, whenever two or more people are in relationship with each other, sooner or later there will be conflicts. Leaders put together a team of followers, so it is inevitable that there will be conflicts. In fact, if a leader doesn’t face battles in the workplace, it probably means there is no vision. Wherever there is vision, there will be passion, and when disagreements happen, emotions are bound to flare up.
Good leaders are aware that battles are part of leadership. The wise ones know how to choose their battles. Here are some examples of good battles in leadership.
Battles that push boundaries. Some arguments and even conflicts have the potential of forcing us to think out of the box and push us farther than we have been before. These battles question assumptions and force us to experiment and go further than we would if all was in peace and quiet.
Battles about Core Values. Any time Biblical values are compromised, fighting for them is a good battle. In fact, these kinds of battles are not only good, but necessary.
Battles about the Lost. My personal concept of Spiritual Warfare is that of a rescue operation. Billions of our fellow humans are captive to sin and death. As Biblical leaders (and Christians) we fight an all-out war to rescue them. Any conflict that distracts or drifts us from the great commission is a battle worth fighting.
Of course, if there are good fights, there are certainly bad ones. Unfortunately, leaders can get caught in those smaller battles and end up distracted from the good fight. Here are some examples of bad fights.
Ego Battles. We all have egos, and when those get inflated, bad battles can ensue. Leaders, particularly those with big personalities and personal charisma are at risk here. Any fight that is about me, my feelings, or emotions is not worth fighting.
Peripheral Battles. Did you notice that very few church splits are over major theological differences? What divides us is often smaller stuff. A much-repeated expression here at ILI comes from a conflict over minor day-to-day issues: “The Lost don’t care.” If it doesn’t have eternal value, it is probably no worth losing sleep (or fighting) over it.
Nuclear Battles. When battles get away from the conflict of ideas, we may be moving too close to the edge of a slippery slope. Conflicts, great or small can end in lose-lose situations with damaged or destroyed relationships, and that is always disastrous.
How do you choose your battles? My prayer is that God will give you and I wisdom and help us carefully choose only good ones – the ones worth fighting, even sacrificing for. Those have eternal value and will have eternal consequences.