A Time For Peace, A Time For War

1060-1283116264_93894bca38_m.jpgIn running Aaron+Gould, and in a leadership role at my church, I have a fair few battles to deal with on a weekly basis – all around people. People are the most wonderful thing in life, yet they are also the most complex. Whether it’s work, family, marriage or friends, there are always battles in your relationships. We all have critics, complainers, contenders and competitors.

Battles aren’t wrong. Disagreement, fall outs, and then making amends is like breaking a bone – when it heals, it makes the relationship stronger.

What I’ve been pondering this weekend is how do you decide what battles to fight, and which to leave? Is leaving a battle the same as loosing it? Or do you only loose if you fight and don’t win? Furthermoor, what makes a win?

I’ve always considered that you only go to war when the spoils are worth the endeavour.

That means you need to assess the scale of the battle and the potential scale of the outcome. Battling to get my wife to stop buying more shoes probably will take a lot of my emotional energy, and doesn’t have any spoils in the short term because she just doesn’t see the hundreds of shoes in the closet! However the potential long term outcome of the battle could cost me thousands of pounds over the coming years.

Determining long term spoil from short term spoil requires you to play the ‘what if’ game. What if we carry on spending money on shoes every month? What if I continue letting my child have their way even if it’s a small thing. What if I continue letting my critics go unchallenged, even though no ones listening now? What if I stopped that bully at work always forcing their opinion?

Playing the what-if game requires you know yourself and your goals pretty well. You don’t need to be precise, but you can’t be vague.

What do you guys think? How do you decide what to fight for?

Archived Comments

  • http://emmens.co.uk tobit

    some interesting thoughts.

    In our house we have a saying – “love wins” it grew as a response to “I’ve won!” and the arguments that quickly escalated between my (nearly) 5 year old and my 2 year old.

    We have to remind ourselves that while you might have been first, it is love that should always be allowed to win.

    So, in answer to your question, I only try to fight for things where I can see (sometimes with a lot of vision) that love has a chance of winning.

  • http://emmens.co.uk tobit

    some interesting thoughts.

    In our house we have a saying – “love wins” it grew as a response to “I’ve won!” and the arguments that quickly escalated between my (nearly) 5 year old and my 2 year old.

    We have to remind ourselves that while you might have been first, it is love that should always be allowed to win.

    So, in answer to your question, I only try to fight for things where I can see (sometimes with a lot of vision) that love has a chance of winning.

  • Scott Gould

    Tobit, just was reading your site as I saw you’d commented here!

    Can you help me quantify what “love has a chance of winning” looks like?

  • Scott Gould

    Tobit, just was reading your site as I saw you’d commented here!

    Can you help me quantify what “love has a chance of winning” looks like?

  • http://emmens.co.uk tobit

    love winning looks likes, err, my two not fighting!

    seriously…

    To remove the notion of needing to win, to allow other to be first, second last or to not participate at all is a great act and one that requires discipline.

    So it means not worrying if someone else thinks they are better, or got one up. to me this means an attitude of love towards (some) people that doesn’t feel right, isn’t fair or just, but I have to remind myself that God’s love is not fair, and thank him that it isn’t.

    Ephesians 4:16 is helpful

  • http://emmens.co.uk tobit

    love winning looks likes, err, my two not fighting!

    seriously…

    To remove the notion of needing to win, to allow other to be first, second last or to not participate at all is a great act and one that requires discipline.

    So it means not worrying if someone else thinks they are better, or got one up. to me this means an attitude of love towards (some) people that doesn’t feel right, isn’t fair or just, but I have to remind myself that God’s love is not fair, and thank him that it isn’t.

    Ephesians 4:16 is helpful

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott, great to see you kick off the week with chewy topic.

    As more of a diplomat, my experience has been “what you fight grows”. It’s a silly rule-of-thumb that buys me just the few seconds I need before reacting – or more likely – over reacting to someone or something.

    This gives me more choices. More options for handling the situation. And saves me vast amounts of energy by only engaging “in battle” if it is absolutely the right path of action. This precious energy can be used more creatively elsewhere. Like commenting on leadership blogs like this. :)

    Best, Robin

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott, great to see you kick off the week with chewy topic.

    As more of a diplomat, my experience has been “what you fight grows”. It’s a silly rule-of-thumb that buys me just the few seconds I need before reacting – or more likely – over reacting to someone or something.

    This gives me more choices. More options for handling the situation. And saves me vast amounts of energy by only engaging “in battle” if it is absolutely the right path of action. This precious energy can be used more creatively elsewhere. Like commenting on leadership blogs like this. :)

    Best, Robin

  • Scott Gould

    Ok.. so what about a marital issue, for instance? Do you lie down and
    let the other partner always be right? Of course not – you must love
    one another and this means working things out. Even then, however,
    there is timing in knowing when to broach the subject, and when to let
    it lie.

    Then consider the person in the work place, where their co-worker who
    consistently lets them down and gives them attitude isn’t so amicable.
    At what point do you deal with the situation, or leave it?

    When, as a parent, do you know when to leave an issue with your child,
    and when to deal with it?

    You know what I mean?

  • Scott Gould

    Ok.. so what about a marital issue, for instance? Do you lie down and
    let the other partner always be right? Of course not – you must love
    one another and this means working things out. Even then, however,
    there is timing in knowing when to broach the subject, and when to let
    it lie.

    Then consider the person in the work place, where their co-worker who
    consistently lets them down and gives them attitude isn’t so amicable.
    At what point do you deal with the situation, or leave it?

    When, as a parent, do you know when to leave an issue with your child,
    and when to deal with it?

    You know what I mean?

  • Scott Gould

    Robin, great to hear from you and thanks for getting into this!

    It *is* a chewy topic. I’ve recently been afforded the opportunity for
    personal growth in the form of a critic. Of course one must ignore it
    at a tiny scale, but there are other scales of criticism that require
    a public response – politics shows us this.

    Like you say, what you fight grows. It is certainly true that when I
    do go to war, I can expect it to escalate. Sometimes it doesn’t, but
    often it does. So for me, knowing that there are spoils is essential
    before I fight.

    Might also be worth pointing out to other readers and also Tobit below
    that by “going to war” I don’t mean fighting for something because I
    want to be right. I mean fighting for something because there must be
    change. I only say “I” because, as leaders, we take ownership of life.

  • http://emmens.co.uk tobit

    for some reason I can’t see where to reply to your last comment… so I will do so here.

    I do know what you mean

    http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/... is well worth a listen – a teaching from Rob Bell on forgiveness and stepping outside of the revenge cycle.

    What it spoke to me was that letting love win doesn’t mean you let things go back to how they were, it doesn’t mean you let yourself be abused, mistreated, taken advantage of.
    As a parent I have a responsibility to guide my children, and teach them and to provide discipline when it is needed. But my motive is to let them shine, to excel, to grow and to be transformed – and this might mean they end up being smarter, wiser or better than me. Well, I hope this is what it will mean.

    I don’t think there is a formula (although at work, HR ensure there are plenty of policies to follow when dealing with the people I line manage) although perhaps the formula is found in the attitude that 1 Corinthians 13 talks about.

    do tell me if I am making no sense at all!

  • Scott Gould

    Of course – the point is that fighting the battle isn’t so “I can be right”, it’s so there is a win and a positive outcome.

  • Kristen Olson-Jones

    Being a person that hates conflict and runs from it whenever possible, I would say that there is something to lose when you decide not to fight. There have been many times in my life where I have wanted to change something, an opinion, an action, a plan, and have not done anything becuase I hate conflict and know a battle is up ahead if I decide to try and change it. But those are also situations that I walk away from saying, I should have done something.

  • Scott Gould

    Kristen thanks for your openness. I too have suffered many a loss when I wouldn’t fight for something. Even the meekest of us must be able to fight and not walk away – Jesus does promise 7 times in Revelation “to him who overcomes…”

    What I do want to draw from people is what are the things we will fight for? And how do we measure when to leave it?

    I’ve had to consciously make an effort to stand up for things far more!

  • http://twitter.com/choctaw Chris Price

    The goal is key. Mothers fight ridiculous odds to protect their young and can unhinge the opposition who can’t believe what they’re seeing.

  • Scott Gould

    Good point Chris – there must be a goal. I find without one, you just
    fight, expend lots of energy, and then wonder what you did it all for!e

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