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February 26, 1995

Pick Your Battles

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Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. PROVERBS 9:8
The workplace is made up of a variety of personality types—bold and shy, steady and impulsive, Type A and Type B, INTJ and ESFP. But the mocker, one of the more notorious characters in the Book of Proverbs, stands out in a crowd. This person is a center of negative energy who scoffs at people who try to carry out their responsibilities with honor and integrity. The mocker looks for people to share his or her nastiness in making life unpleasant for the upright.
You may have the misfortune to work over, under, or in close proximity to this kind of person. This warrants tremendous amounts of prayer and discernment. If you try to point out the error of this person’s ways, you’re asking for trouble—you’ll just make yourself the subject of future attacks. When you’re choosing your battles, choose to avoid this one, the writer of Proverbs says.
On the other hand, the wise person—the hero of Proverbs—responds to criticism with a totally different attitude. This person wants above all to do things right and welcomes any input on ways to improve his work and character. Not only that, Scripture says he will love you, so this person may seek a mentoring relationship with you. Invest in these people.
The unspoken question is, Which kind of person are you? When your boss, for example, offers constructive criticism, how do you respond? With defensiveness and even scorn? Do you gripe about him behind his back and try to get your coworkers to agree with your negative assessment? Do you—be it ever so subtly—look for ways to get even with him for upbraiding you?
Or do you swallow your injured pride and look for the truth in his words, even if they hurt? If you take the latter choice, you’re on the path to greater wisdom.

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