President Theodore Roosevelt owned a little dog that was always getting into fights and consistently getting the worst of them. On one occasion, his dog tackled a mangy cur and took a beating. Someone said to President Roosevelt, “Your dog isn’t much of a fighter.” “Oh, yes, he’s a good fighter,” replied the President, “he’s just a poor judge of dogs.”
Here are some actual police responses to angry people’s statements pulled over for breaking the law. Their responses remind me of Theodore’s little dog engaging big dogs more powerful than he. “Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don’t think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I’m the shift supervisor?” Here’s another example. “The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?” Another example is, “If you run, you’ll go to jail tired.”
Now, here’s an example of someone who chooses their battles wisely. A police recruit was asked during an exam, “What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?” He said, “Call for a backup.” There’s a guy who knows how to choose a battle.
The Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger rests in the hearts of fools.” Someone once said that anger is a wind that blows out the lamp of the mind. It’s easy in today’s ‘short fuse’ world to be way too eager to get angry. We see things that need changing or aren’t fair and we want them changed…now! Be wary, anger is one letter away from danger.
Don’t fight every battle you run into. We weren’t designed for that. If we do, we become a person who becomes a person of war. It’s one thing to be in war, it’s another thing for war to be in you. When that happens, the end justifies the means. We start down a road that is more destructive than productive in achieving our cause or issue. We lose perspective. We blame, demonize, and even break the law to justify behavior. We end up losing what we are fighting for and become more hurt and angry in the process. People who fight dragons too long become a dragon themselves.
Jesus chose His battles wisely. Laurie Beth Jones in her book, Teach Your Team to Fish, talks about that. “Imagine how Jesus felt when He saw a Roman soldier hit a Jew, or watched people spit on prostitutes, or walked past crucified people in Jerusalem. This horror was a regular occurrence. Yet there is no record of Jesus leading any protest marches or overthrowing Roman tyranny or halting the execution of others. Why not? Didn’t He care? Of course He cared. But Jesus was wise enough to choose His battles, to save His energy for the one battle He could win, the one that could change history — not because He picked up His sword, but because He laid down His life.”
She goes on to say that balance, poise, knowing your place, knowing how and where best to apply pressure while maintaining grace, character and dignity, will ultimately get you closer, in the long run, to where you want to be.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves. What battles am I in? Should I be fighting them? What business or calling am I really in? Am I really hurting or helping the cause by fighting? Am I battling because of some unresolved issue in my life? When I battle, am I just opposing myself and distracting attention from the main issue?
Jesus chose His battles carefully and wisely. We can too! Otherwise, we become just another poor judge of dogs! Anger not transformed is anger transferred. Mangy curs like that. Now, for the final question, was Mickey Mouse a dog or a cat?
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in 10 newspapers all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 450 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing mental perceptions that the community has of the church.