It began with a disagreement over some petty little thing. It was probably something silly. My friend and I were both 13, and we didn’t see eye to eye on a particular topic. We could have left it alone, but we didn’t.
The disagreement escalated into an argument, the argument gave way to personal name calling, and the personal name calling resulted in an all out fist fight. My mother arrived on the scene to see to young men huffing, puffing, sweating, kicking, punching, and screaming at each other. It was as they say, “a knock-down, drag-out” sort of thing. A fight that began as something small, ended up really hurting our good friendship.
And here’s the worst part; years later I don’t even remember what it was about. But I do remember that our relationship was never the same after that. Oh, we still would hang out together, but we lost the closeness in our friendship because of everything we said during our brawl.
God has some pretty smart advice to give in the Bible about this kind of thing. When it comes to arguing and heated debates, that advice can be summed up in two short words; don’t start. Check out what it says in the book of Proverbs: “The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts” (Proverbs 17:14).
When a dam gets a leak, the errosion from the water coming through that little hole can cause the entire dam to burst open. And so it is with an argument. Some little thing can trigger a full blown fight that neither party intended in the first place.
I’ve grown up now, but I’ll never forget that fight that my friend and I had. It hurt our relationship, and all because we kept on arguing. Here are a few suggestions for what to do if a disagreement takes place with someone else:
1. Stop. Just stand still and count to 10. Take a deep breath.
2. Ask God to help you make good decisions. Pray.
3. Ask yourself, “Is this subject really worth losing a friend over?” An argument that goes unchecked can cause serious damage to your relationship.
4. Agree to disagree…agreeably. Say something like, “We may not see eye to eye on this subject, but that’s O.K. I can agree to disagree with you.”
It takes courage to do these things, but think it over carefully. Making the right decisions could save a friendship.
—Written by Michael Temple