Picking Your Battles

St. Louis the CrusaderUsing wisdom and common sense to engage only in those challenges where the potential for victory is worthy of the potential costs

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. Jonathon Kozol

Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. Donald Trump

He that fights and runs away, May turn and fight another day; But he that is in battle slain, Will never rise to fight again. Tacitus

  Picking battles is the task of knowing when to engage or when to back off and move on. Some potential conflicts and confrontations are not worthy of our efforts. The risks are just not worth the potential rewards.

   Before risking life and limb, or even our time and effort, we should stop and carefully think about what it is we are about to do. We should analyze risks and costs and weigh them against likely consequences. Do we have a battle that is worthy? Should we save ourselves a lot of heartache and misery? It is good for us to consider the practical versus the impractical, principals and values, doing the right thing and last, but not least, are we up to the challenge? Is there only a low probability or even no possibility of victory? Is becoming a martyr or making a statement a fair exchange for what it may cost? We should know what we are getting into. There is no point in being foolhardy and jumping off a cliff to our certain destruction.

    We often engage in various types of battles, many not worthy of our time and effort; things too trivial and inconsequential. We get caught up in such things as someone cutting us off in traffic, encountering rude salespeople or fighting beauocracy.  We can choose to engage in such battles or decide it is not worth our time and effort. If we get too upset or angry or lose our temper, we have engaged in battle and risk being a loser no matter what happens. There was little or nothing to be gained in the first place. We lost our cool and we lose the battle. Arguments and heated discussions are one of our most wasted activities. Very seldom does someone win arguments. Both sides get too emotional; close their minds, mental fences go up and no one will be influenced by anything that is said. Choosing to engage in an argument is usually a bad decision.

    Battles should be carefully chosen. The risks need to be really worthy of what it may cost. The potential gains, wrongs to be righted, statements needing to be made; whatever it is, needs to be important enough to put our hearts and souls on the line. We need to be careful and deliberate; engaging only in those battles that have a prize worthy of putting ourselves at risk.

Challenge: Are you able to stand back and be aware of those times when you are engaged in various forms of battle? How much of your time, effort and emotional energy is wasted by engaging in things that are unworthy? It is in your best interests to do better at picking battles that have something at stake worthy of your involvement. Be prepared to resist the temptation to jump into things that are too trivial and too unimportant. Walk away.

Wisdom: The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. Sun Tzu

Spiritual: (NIV)

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5, 6

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Ps 32:8

We are engaged in battles on all fronts; engaged in the confrontations that are normal day to day outside activities and engaged in the ongoing struggles and battles that are taking place inside us. In many ways it is what is happening inside us that enables or hampers us in how we handle our external struggles. We are at war with ourselves. If we want to win the battle of self, it absolutely requires God’s guidance and direction to do so.

Prayer: Help me to make a little progress everyday in the ongoing epic battle that I am having with self.

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