Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Arguing with Fools

About a year ago I woke up to the truth that I spend too much time and energy debating with foolish people. I sat down and read through the book of Proverbs to see what advice I might find about arguing with fools. What I found was pretty convicting.

Maybe the best analogy is in Proverbs 17: 12

Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs
than a fool in his folly.

If you spent anytime backpacking you know the danger of getting between Mama Bear and her babies. Apparently fools are equally dangerous.

And maybe on some level I like the danger.

Twice today I found myself confronted with fools in their folly and both times I engaged the “bear.”

There’s a part of me that convinces myself, “I’m their (the fools) pastor. It’s my responsibility to listen to them no matter how foolish their perspective or arguments may be. And perhaps there’s a part of me that believes if I will keep speaking wisdom the “light bulb will suddenly go off” and they will understand and even better agree with me.

Proverbs 26: 4 suggests otherwise:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, 

or you will be like him yourself.

Again and again the wisdom of Proverbs tells me to stay away from foolish people.

He who walks with the wise grows wise, 

but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 13:20

Stay away from a foolish man, 

for you will not find knowledge on his lips.

Proverbs 14:7

Do not speak to a fool, 

for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.

Proverbs 23:9

To be fair, I didn’t seek out either of the fools I debated today. According to Proverbs 20:3 I won’t have to.

It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, 

but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Regularly I am discovering the one of the challenges of leadership, especially leading by grace is managing how much time I spend arguing with fools who are quick to quarrel.

I suspect that its going to be a lifelong challenge since according to Proverbs 26: 11

As a dog returns to its vomit, 

so a fool repeats his folly.

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