Measure twice | Cut once

In 2005, I read Thom S. Rainer’s excellent book, Breakout Churches. I was ten years in on a twenty-year time line of pastoring a growing church in a growing community.

Rainer’s book was timely and helpful.

One quote that made my quote file was:

“We cannot be content with a life and a ministry that could be described in the epitaph: ‘This leader avoided conflict well.”

_Thom S. Rainer, Breakout Churches, page 87

Earlier this morning when I read that quote I took a pause.

While I still agree with Rainer in principle, over these last sixteen year, since I first entered the above quotation in my quote file, it has been my observation that more churches have been destroyed by church leaders who were not afraid to handle conflict but did it poorly.

Looking back over my life and ministry to this point, there have been many conflicts that I had to deal with. But there were far more that I didn’t deal with, and I have few regrets.

Conflict is not about winning or getting your way or change that you fill needs to happen and happen now. Conflict is about people–people with feelings, hopes, dreams, family and eternal souls.


Like the ancient words sometimes spoken at a wedding, conflict “should not be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.”

So actually, if today were my day to stand before the One whom I serve as his steward, I could be satisfied with the epitaph: “This leader avoided conflict well.”

What I would not want recorded would be: “This leader avoided conflict badly” or “This leader embraced conflict poorly and unnecessarily.”

The ONE THING for today: While conflict is a necessary part of life, before jumping in count the cost…remembering the old carpenter’s axiom: “Measure twice, cut once.”

Habitat for Humanity project with undergraduate students working during 2021 spring break. (Unsplash)

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