One of my goals for this year is to become more visible on the internet. The more visibility I can get, the higher likelihood I’ll actually sell some books. But gaining visibility isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time, a lot of strategy, and thick skin, because the best way to get out there is to venture into the terrifying minefield of comment feeds on blogs.
My goodness. Have you ever read the comment feed on a popular blog? Good grief. People get off on crazy tangents that have nothing to do with the post itself. They argue with each other. They insult each other. It’s altogether just a completely uncomfortable place to be if you don’t like conflict.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t comment on blogs. That’s not the point. But my feeling is if you’re going to comment on something at all, you should think carefully about what you write. Even more so if you’re a Christ-follower.
Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
It’s easy to want to jump into an argument sometimes, especially if you’re sure you’re right. I’ve been there. I don’t like arguments, but I also don’t like sitting on the sidelines when someone is obviously wrong about something. When somebody is handing out misinformation like it’s common knowledge, my first reaction is to speak up and set them straight. And it’s not wrong to do that, as long as you do it respectfully and out of love. But how often do you jump into an argument because of love? Isn’t it more likely that you jump into an argument because you want to prove someone else is wrong?
What I’ve learned about arguments is that most of the time there’s no winner. You can’t change someone’s mind by arguing. Or, if you can, it’s rare. Most of the time, arguing only sets both sides more firmly against each other.
Yes, it’s good to stand up for what you believe. Yes, it’s right to correct people when they’re giving out misinformation. But is what’s being discussed actually something you can change someone’s mind about? Or is it just an argument for argument’s sake? Are the two sides fighting because they’re honestly looking for answers to their questions, or are they fighting because they refuse to back down from what they believe? Are they using facts or emotions to justify what they believe?
Is it really worth getting in the middle?
Paul had an opinion on this. He was against useless arguments. He didn’t participate in them, because he saw that they only created more conflict between people than already was there. And he followed it up by stating that the Lord’s servants should be kind and patient with everyone. Not just kind and patient, but able to teach too!
That’s a pretty tall order. But with God all things are possible.
Sometimes a good discussion is great. It’ll clear your brain, help you think about things from a different perspective, give you insight into someone else’s life. A good, respectful, honest, open discussion with someone else can revolutionize your life. But the difference between an argument and a discussion is that no one is trying to win a discussion.
Discuss, yes. Argue, no. It’s a waste of time and energy, and if you’re a Christ-follower, you’ve got more important things to do. So back down. Bow out. Step away before you’re in too deep that you can’t get out.
Even better? Weigh the discussion before you jump into it. Is it really a question that people want an answer to, or are they just being difficult out of spite?
Your time is limited. So is your energy level. Wouldn’t you rather spend it on something that will actually be productive, like serving someone or teaching someone? Don’t waste it arguing with someone who won’t change their mind anyway. Even if you win the argument, you might lose the chance at a relationship that could have made a difference.