Monday, July 28, 2008

Noted and Quoted: Strength From Adversaries

"He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper."

- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
I first came across this quote a few years ago, when I was working with a rather difficult individual who was later to become my boss. We ended up getting along quite well, as it turned out, but I've held on to the quotation, nonetheless.
Whether in the workplace or in our personal lives, our tendency is to see those who disagree with us (not to mention those who are out to get us) as obstacles, problems, and annoyances. But there is a sense in which they are the ones who do the best job of making us think. I may know exactly what I believe, and as long as I'm around like-minded people, I'll never have to think my convictions through. But put me with a person of a different mind, and all the applicable presuppositions, analyses, and conclusions come into question and beg reexamination.
I'm not at the point of seeking adversaries; they seem to come along often enough, unbidden. But when they do come, I want to welcome them as friends in disguise. They will help me think farther and live better.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1.2-4

For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Proverbs 24.6

1 comment:

  1. This is one the most difficult things to remember in daily life. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the emotion or the perverse "joy" of encouraging the advesary.