The truth is that although there are many times that war is essential to protect what we love and walk in victory, battles always have a cost. Jesus Himself said that before you go to war – before you engage in a battle, pick a fight, confront someone – there will always be a cost (Luke 14.31-32). Sometimes this is unavoidable, and many times the cost of battle will be less than the cost of ignoring a problem or a disloyal person or a satanic vulnerable. But there are other times when the best way to win is not to fight.
It is not a good idea to engage in a fight you cannot win. Sometimes people go into a church to try and change it from the bottom up – that is impossible, it is rebellion, it will rip a church apart, cause you to be mistrusted and kill your ministry. It is a lazy way to do ministry, and the cost of doing that will always be more than the reward.
There are times, and part of being a great leader, is being able to recognize these times – when the best thing to do is win without fighting. Too many people think a retreat or a surrender is always a sign of weakness, but sometimes it is a sign of wisdom, strength and remarkable character.
It take a lot of grace and humility to not fight – sometimes an enemy is too big or strong and it is best to step back. We need to be grown ups in the house – have you noticed that children love to get the toys out, but it takes a grown up to put them away? Anyone can start a fight, but it takes maturity and skill to avoid a fight. You have to pick your battles. If you pick your battles carefully you will win!
Here are some battles you can avoid:
- Do not employ someone who is not suited for the job, that is going to lead to a war down the road that you cannot win.
- Do not appoint someone as a leader who you do not trust or haven’t seen tested
- Flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2.22). It is not a sign of strength to hang out with your girlfriend or boyfriend alone in your dorm room, alone in your car, and so on, and spend time doing things that are going to excite your body. It is not a sign of weakness to avoid that battle, it is a sign of wisdom and maturity. Lust is a strong and powerful enemy, and either staying apart or getting married is probably smarter than fighting lust everyday.
- Don’t hang around people with death in their words then go and fight those words all night and all day. Stop listening to them!
- Don’t cast your pearls before swine and then try and convince those pigs that those pearls are worth something. Pigs don’t think anything is worthwhile if they cannot stuff it in their faces.
- Don’t try and change a stranger’s point of view. I get letters from TV viewers telling me to embrace their pet doctrines – I don’t know them, I don’t respect them, it’s a waste of pen and paper. If you have a great revelation, produce some fruit and get fruitful and learn how to grow in that and then you will have a place to share it.
Get good advice before you start a war! Listen to other people who have been in your situation, have a mentor, listen to CDs and DVDs, learn some history. The battle is not to the biggest but to the one who knows the most. David’s knowledge about covenant and the history of his nation meant Goliath’s size and experience were meaningless! What do you know about your covenant? About your history? These things matter! What do you think about you and your calling? What do you know about the Word of God? Why can a human beat a lion – because the battle goes to the people who know the most, not the biggest teeth.
I had a situation a few years ago where one of our pastors was going a different direction from the Tree of Life Family, I could have come in as the big boss and started a fight. I would have won the fight, I am in charge and so on, so I would have won, but it would have cost me a lot of credibility, it would have injured people in the church, it would have hurt people to watch that fight even. That would have been a fight I could not afford to get into. So, I could not do nothing, I could not start a fight, so I started to pray about a third option, a wise man’s option, a grown up option.
So I sat down with the pastor and offered him the church. The whole church, offered to pay the rent for six months, and support it financially while he was the pastor. Obviously, he couldn’t call it Tree of Life but he could keep pastoring and ministering and I wouldn’t be responsible for his words or actions. I made that offer, and the pastor decided he wanted to step back and we put another pastor in the church, and it is still growing and thriving. Sometimes we need to press pause and find a third option! Pray for wisdom for yourself!