How to have a Fantastic Family Fight

I talk to so many people outside the church who say they get along better than people in the church. If church people behaved like they tell other people to behave, they might come.

I’ve met so many Christian couples who just couldn’t work it out. Famously, the Christian divorce rate is almost identical to couples that wouldn’t call themselves Christian.

And as Christians, most of us realize fighting is destructive and likely unChristian, but we don’t know what to do about it.

The truth is that all of us fight.

Couples fight.

Church leaders fight.

Denominations fight.

Siblings fight.

Friends fight.

Parents fight their kids.

Kids fight their parents.

Sometimes I fight with myself.

Okay, you get the picture. People fight.

And the stakes are high. Families, churches and friendships break up as a result. And unchurched people stay away.

But, believe it or not, there’s actually a more productive way to fight.

Fight for the heart. It means you can fight with someone, or you can fight for them.

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.

Fighting for someone means you want their best interests to prevail, not yours.

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 advance the mission.

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 parents, church leaders and families started fighting for each other rather than with each other.

Question: When was the last time you fought for someone rather than with them?

How could that change your family? Your church? Your life? The world?


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