Getting Along With Others
Genesis 13:7, “And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.”
Numbers 12:1, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.”
Acts 15:36-39, 36“And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 37And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.”
Galatians 2:11-14, 11“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”
In these passages of Scripture, we learn of four different situations in which people did not get along with each other. Genesis 13 deals with the strife between the herdsman of Lot and Abraham and the eventual separation of Lot and Abraham because of the strife. In Numbers 12, we read about the strife between Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ brother and sister. In Acts, we learn there was division between Paul and Barnabas and between Paul and Peter.
Why is there so much strife between people? Husbands and wives bicker between themselves. There is strife in churches, even between the very leaders of fundamentalism. Pastors become disenchanted with their members, and the members, likewise, become disenchanted with their pastor. Why is there strife between people?
In a question and answer session, a preacher once asked Dr. Jack Hyles, “Why don’t leaders get along with each other as they once did? I am tired of the fighting between our leaders.”
Dr. Hyles replied, “You mean, like Paul and Barnabas? They had dissention between them, and they split up. After Paul and John Mark disagreed, John Mark quit and turned back. Paul and Peter quarreled when Peter refused to eat with the Gentiles and Paul rebuked him. John Wesley and George Whitefield could not get along with each other. J. Frank Norris and John R. Rice had a falling out. J. Frank Norris and G.B. Vick, literally, split the Bible Baptist Fellowship down the middle. John R. Rice wrote articles against Bob Jones, Sr., in The Sword of the Lord, and Bob Jones, Sr., retaliated by writing a book against Dr. Rice. John Calvin and Martin Luther would hardly speak to each other.”
Each of us has strengths, but those strengths are always accompanied by corresponding weaknesses. A person who has the strength of leadership usually has the accompanying weakness of stubbornness. Everything has to be done his way. However, remove the weakness of stubbornness and you will also remove the strength of leadership, and that leader will be destroyed. We tend to forget that the stubbornness of a leader keeps him from being a coward.
A person who has the strength of strong leadership will also have the accompanying weakness of clashing with other strong leaders. A dynamic leader, like Peter, will sometimes demonstrate impetuous behavior. A tender, broken-hearted Jeremiah will experience depression from time to time, and he will even consider quitting.
A person who loves Jesus, as John did, will also expect the privilege of sitting beside Him in the kingdom. Moses used his strength to demand that Pharaoh free the Israelites from bondage; then, his weakness was demonstrated with a fit of temper. On the other hand, Aaron had none of the weaknesses of leadership, nor did he have the strengths. He gave in to the children of Israel and allowed them to build a golden calf.
The Apostle Paul was probably the greatest Christian of his day, but he had his weaknesses, too. He frequently clashed with the other leaders, such as Barnabas, John Mark, or Peter. He became impatient with John Mark’s weakness.
When Weakness becomes Compromise Expect Opposition
He deeply loved the Jews and wanted them to be saved. He even wished himself accursed for the sake of his kinsmen. Yet, in his fervor for his fellow Jews, he once compromised, shaved his head, and took a Jewish vow. The line was crossed when his weakness became a compromise. The same is true in our day and time when weakness becomes the father of wrong then do not be upset with those who point it out.
You must learn to accept a person with both his strengths and weaknesses within the realm of right. You must accept the liabilities along with the assets within right. There is no place for leadership to endorse and accept compromise. Realize, you cannot have strong leadership without dominance. You cannot have provision and protection without possession. You cannot have wisdom without opinion, or zeal without impatience. To oppose the Emerging church model is to say weakness in music and weakness in separation from the world cannot and will not be condoned. Why? Because you step outside of the circumference of Scriptures.
Weakness does not encompass compromise. There is a vast difference between a weakness and a fatal flaw. When compromise becomes the norm among leaders then do not be surprised when a strong leader will oppose such. Influence is a powerful attribute and can cause irreversible damage to the followers of compromising leadership. Thus when some adapt and adopt to contrary lifestyles to Scripture do not be shocked when opposition is strong. Egyptian music and morals will destroy God's people. Thus, no one should be shocked or upset when strength is exercised.
If you want a pastor with courage and conviction, then accept his stubbornness. If you want a strong, dynamic, and powerful preacher, do not expect to be able to control him. You cannot have a bland leader—a dominant Barney Fife, a General Milk toast, an emotional stoic, or a mousy lion. He cannot preach like the Apostle Paul, and then act like Norman Vincent Peale. If he hollers about sodomy, he will also holler at your children. You cannot have a preacher who is willing to fight, and then expect to pick which battles he is allowed to fight. If he has fire, you will someday be burned. The same water that refreshes you has the potential to drown you.
Husband, if you want your wife to run the finances and the household affairs, then you must accept the fact that she will also try to run you. You cannot expect her to be submissive. If you want her to help you earn a living, you must expect her to want your help washing the dishes. If you want a loving, sentimental wife, expect her to weep when she is disappointed in you. If you want her to be opinionated in other situations, expect that she will, sometimes, disagree with you.
Wife, you must accept your husband’s stubbornness along with his leadership. You cannot have a husband who is a Moses at work and an Aaron at home. He cannot be a giant at work and a mouse at home. He cannot be Superman at work and Clark Kent at home.
The reason we strive with each other is because we want the strengths of another person without his accompanying weaknesses. How can we avoid this constant strife with other people?
Before Entering a Permanent Relationship, Decide What Strengths You Want
Young person, before you go to college, decide what strengths you want in a college, then choose your college based on those strengths. Choose your employment based on those strengths. Before you marry, decide what strengths you want in a mate, and then choose a mate based on those desired strengths. Recognize that the height of his heights corresponds to the depth of his depths. If his strengths are not strong, his weaknesses will not be as weak.
Church member; realize you need a strong leader who will not move to the left. Choose a church on the basis of a pastor’s strengths, not his personal appeal. A church needs an old-fashioned, Hell-fire, damnation Baptist preacher who will holler. He will have a temper, and he will be stubborn; but it is better to have a pastor who believes something than to have a pastor who believes nothing. The weakness that makes him stubborn will become strength when he stands firm on the King James Bible or standards.
Preacher; realize you need strong leaders in a movement in order to sustain the successes of that movement. No movement will survive without strong leadership which also has weaknesses. As long as those weaknesses do not violate Scripture you can live with it. Do not follow those who on purpose refuse to mention men of God like Dr. Jack Hyles. No need to reinvent the wheel or the patterns of our fundamental Baptist leaders of the past.
If You Are in a Permanent Relationship, Accept What You Have
If you have been in a relationship long enough—whether it is marriage, church membership, or employment—you have already discovered the other person’s weaknesses. Time always exposes our weaknesses. Learn to accept them! Do not jump from church to church, from pastor to pastor, from employer to employer. Settle down and realize the success that is already found in that relationship. Accept that the success is because of the strengths, even though you do not like the corresponding weaknesses.
Thank God for the Strengths and the Corresponding Weaknesses within the perimeters of Scripture
We always thank God for the strengths, but we should, also, thank Him for the weaknesses. We should not be content or accept the weaknesses; we should thank God for them. Thank God your pastor is fundamental, he foams at the mouth, he throws songbooks, and he preaches the devil out of sinners!
More lessons are learned from the results of weakness than the results of strength. With that in mind you need to thank God when your pastor shoots the wrong person because of the lessons learned! Thank God when he nails your hide to the door when you did not do anything wrong! Lessons are learned from every misstep. He is only human, after all, and his strength has an accompanying weakness. In every relationship—between husband and wife, parent and teacher, pastor and member, or boss and employee— accept the strengths with the accompanying weaknesses.
Again, no one is saying we should accept compromising of Scriptures. It is within the sphere of Scriptures and doing right where we find humanity exposed. Those weaknesses are a part of being a human being. But, when it is a violation of the Bible it then morphs into tragedy.
Remember There Are No Strengths Without Accompanying Weaknesses
People cannot get along with each other because they love assets, but hate the liabilities. Accept the liabilities of a strong, growing church that takes a stand. Accept the bus kids. Accept the Give-It-Alls. Accept the standards and the rules in the Christian school.
Accept your spouse’s liabilities along with his, or her, assets. Wife, accept your strong husband’s stubbornness. Husband; accept your submissive wife’s tendency to cry. If you reject someone because of his weaknesses, you will also reject his strengths.
Accept Both the Weaknesses and the Strengths
One time, in a conference in Michigan, Dr. John R. Rice and Dr. Jack Hyles were preaching together. A lady stood behind the pulpit and sang a special in a miniskirt. Afterwards, Dr. Rice stood to preach and said, “Now that the hussy is through singing, I’ll go ahead and preach the Bible.” His statement caused a furor, and many people refused to come back to the meeting or subscribe to The Sword of the Lord.
In another meeting my wife and I attended, a preacher talked about the church starting on the Day of Pentecost. After the preacher was done, Dr. Rice stood and looked at him, saying, “My dear brother, that was a wonderful sermon. Too bad it’s not in the Bible. I suggest you say as much about the church starting on the Day of Pentecost as the Bible says, and that is nothing." Then he started straight into his message.
On another occasion, Dr. Rice was preaching in near Kankakee, Illinois. A man from the local Nazarene college was playing the organ for the service. When Dr. Rice asked everyone to bow his head for prayer, the man started to play the organ. Dr. Rice asked him to stop, but the organist kept playing.
Dr. Rice asked him again to stop playing, but the organist kept playing. Finally, Dr. Rice walked over to the organ and yelled, “Shut that box off, now!” but the organist continued to play. Dr. Rice threw a fit, and the organist told him he was trying to set the mood for prayer. Dr. Rice said, “God is not moved by it, so quit it. We are going to pray.” People accepted Dr. Rice’s strengths, but they rejected his weaknesses.
Paul, the greatest missionary that ever lived, had his strengths and weaknesses. The greatest Christians in the history of mankind, Peter and Paul, fussed with each other. Many of the great leaders in history could not get along. We must realize that we, too, must learn to get along with each other and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
In every area of life, the same strengths that are assets cause the same weaknesses that are liabilities. You must have both; you cannot have one without the other. Do not reject your relationship with a person because you cannot accept his weaknesses. Do not try to correct the weaknesses; in so doing, you will destroy the very strengths that make a person great.