When you first became a family, you likely thought that you would never have a fight.
You would be a perfect couple.
Your son would discipline himself, and your daughter would, well, never sin because she’s your daughter.
How’s that going?
Hasn’t really turned out that way, has it?
The sad reality is that every family fights. As much as we don’t like it, we do. Most of us realize fighting is destructive and likely unChristian, but we don’t know what to do about it.
And the stakes are high.
Families, break up or break down as a result.
So what do you do about fighting?
Well, if you’re going to fight, just fight differently. There are actually two ways for a family to fight.
You can fight with your each other.
Or you can fight for each other.
These two small words– for and with–represent a world of difference in how you fight.
Most of us have only ever had someone fight with us. If someone fights with you:
It’s a zero sum game.
They need to win and you need to lose and you need to win in order for them to lose.
The people who fight care more about themselves than anyone.
Both walk away feeling diminished–usually even the ‘victor’ does over time. Contrast that with fighting for someone. When you fight for someone:
You’re fighting for them so you want to see them better off.
The fight is happening because you want to see them win, not because you want to win.
You care more about their interests than you do about yours.
Both walk away replenished– with the relationship stronger in the short and long term. Even if the other person doesn’t respond well, you have done everything in your power to help them, not hurt them.
It means that when there’s conflict, the conflict is about moving through an issue so the person you’re fighting with is better off, not that so that you are right or feel vindicated.
And finally it means that everyone leaves better than before the fight rather than depleted. Relationships are stronger and the issues got dealt with in a way that actually helped your family move forward.
You know who taught us this?
No one modeled fighting for someone (rather than with someone) better than Jesus. As his enemies nailed him to the cross, he said “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
What they didn’t realize of course, is that this Jesus they were killing was dying for them. He was fighting for them while they were fighting with him, and it changed the world.
So what do you think would happen if families started fighting for each other rather than with each other.
Question….when was the last time you fought for your family rather than with them?
This week, fight for your spouse. Fight for your kids. Fight for the relationships that matter most. It could change your family forever.
Carey is the lead pastor of Connexus Community Church, a growing multi-campus church near Toronto and strategic partner of North Point Ministries. Prior to starting Connexus in 2007, Carey served for 12 years in a mainline church, transitioning three congregations into a single, rapidly growing congregation. Carey writes one of the most widely read Christian leadership blogs today. He is the author of “Leading Change Without Losing It” and co-author of “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity” with Reggie Joiner. He and his family live in Ontario, Canada. Find Carey on his blog or follow him on Twitter @Cnieuwhof.