I’m reminded of a principle I heard recently while listening to a Dallas FM radio station — the principle — “pick your battles.”
It truly gives one contentment when he or she comes to grips with the truth that it’s not necessary to have a meltdown when we feel our rights have been violated.
When someone pulls out in front of me in heavy traffic, there is a great temptation to speed up in order to frighten them into thinking I am going to ram them. Why would I do this? Because (1) I feel my rights have been violated and (2) I feel it is my duty to teach the other person about courtesy and responsibility.
It was a great relief to me when I realized it’s not my duty to teach a lesson to some big burly guy driving a monster truck, who almost ran completely over me, about courtesy and responsibility. If his mom and dad didn’t teach him about it, then I am certainly not going to be successful at it while in heavy traffic — driving my little PT Cruiser.
Another principle I learned from the same radio station is when they said - and I paraphrase — “Sometimes it’s best to choose peace rather than to prove oneself right.”
It is not a disgrace to acquiesce while in such heated arguments over issues in which you are certain you are right. For example, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on early model Ford cars. I know, beyond a doubt, a 1946 Ford has rectangular parking lights over the grill — while the ’47s and ’48s have little round parking lights under the headlights. But if someone tries to convince me otherwise today, I have found that it is best to just say, “Well maybe I ’ll go back and Google this” rather than proving myself right. Because frankly, to win such a trite little argument will not change the world for the better; it will not enrich my friendship with the person; and it will not result in my name being inscribed in the Guinness book under the heading, world’s foremost geniuses.
It’s not a sign of weakness to refuse to portray oneself as an expert on everything.
In recent years, I rode a Honda Goldwing motorcycle. It was by far the most powerful vehicle I have ever owned. When I would pull up to a traffic light next to some hot shot in a powerful car, I would often have this urge to leave him in my dust. But meekness in such a situation would dictate to me, “I know I can beat him, but what’s the point? To show superiority? To humble others?”
Jesus said that he was “meek and lowly in heart.” Matthew 11:29. Meekness does not signify weakness — but rather it means “power under control.” With just a word, Jesus could have eviscerated every person in Jerusalem and walked away from the cross. Matthew 26:53. But his meekness — his power under control and his devotion to God’s will caused him to give his life in payment for the sin of mankind.
I have a friend who is a Baptist pastor in Houston. When he was a boy, he was small for his age and was unmercifully picked on by bullies. He enrolled in martial arts classes, and by the time he was in high school, he had earned a black belt in karate. The bullies continued to harass him, but he realized that he could injure them seriously if he used the full force of his skills, so he laughed and said, “I just let them go ahead and beat me up.” Now that’s power under control.
And in our situations, remember, it’s okay to be assured in your heart you are right — and it is a demonstration of great character and discipline when you refuse to flaunt it.
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.