No matter what Christian tradition we align with, or group we associate with, all of us should consider the following questions. Over the years I developed this list to ask myself these kinds of things on a regular basis:

*Am I fearful of speaking up due to the fear of losing my livelihood? As a pastor I regularly reminded myself that the folks at church were not responsible for paying me. They were God’s instruments to be sure, but God was in charge of my well-being. I am glad for a father who instilled in me the virtue of doing the right thing no matter the cost.

*Am I fearful of speaking up due to jeopardizing opportunities for ministry (or business) in certain venues? Much could be said about this, but the reality is that many don’t press important issues over fear of losing out on speaking and writing opportunities. 

Years ago, I talked with a guy who lost his job at a big, Christian publishing house because he protested them accepting a book which contained heresy. The best-selling author stayed and the editor left. It cost him in some significant and very tangible ways, but it did not cost him his integrity.

*Am I fearful of speaking up because I truly like these people and don’t want to lose my “community”? This is understandable as indeed all of these temptations are, but we must ask how good the friends really are if any pushback and challenge is viewed as a threat to the friendship. 

Personally, I don’t mind hearty disagreements and have had them with many friends. I do mind when a lack of respect, not actively listening to one another, setting up straw-man points, ad hominems, or the all too common practice of passive-aggressive behavior takes place. 

*Am I fearful of speaking up because I don’t want to be tagged “a critical spirit”?  Labels can be lethal. I have seen the “critical spirit” label wielded with wicked efficiency. 

To be candid, I have been guilty for labeling some “company men” who may not have deserved it. Others probably did, but that still is not the best way to communicate. We label because as David Dark said so well, we are lazy and want “mental shortcuts.”

In either case, we ought to be willing to be misunderstood, but actively seeking to understand others better. I am absolutely convinced this is greatly aided by proximity. If I don’t know someone it is easy to label them in an unfavorable light. If I do get to know them, we might still disagree, but be less keen on categorizing one another with our unflattering arsenal of terms.

One example is the mea culpa a popular blogger gave over his less than flattering review of Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts. Tim Challies candidly registered his dismay over how he treated Voskamp ( Wonderfully, it was Voskamp’s invitation to Challies and his family for a meal with the Voskamp family which got that ball rolling. So proximity is powerful. Repeat it often!

My go to verses which have helped me better navigate (no perfection achievable this far from Eden!) the choppy waters of simultaneously not fearing man, yet remembering the need to remain a man growing in peace with others whenever possible are:

“Stop regarding man, who breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” (Isa. 2:22)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”  (Matt. 5:7)

“If possible, so far as depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Rom. 12:18) while always remembering the balancing verse of “Woe to you when all the people speak well of you; for their fathers used to treat the false prophets the same way.” (Luke 6:26)

“This you know, my beloved brethren.  But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19)








  1. Jeff Barclay

    Very helpful!
    My circle of friends and my spheres of influence are a (hopefully healthy) mongrel mix. I want to be the same me no matter who I’m with.
    A really great checklist.

  2. Jeannie Love

    I found this more difficult to execute IN the workplace than out of it. I have spent many years practicing the art of “disagreeing agreeably,” and I have a way to go. When in a pinch I remain quiet. It seems to then take a few hours to come to terms with something I view as a proper, helpful response; but, alas, the moment has passed. Thank you for bringing this subject to the forefront for your readers.

    1. Dave Post author

      Wise counsel Jeannie! It reminds me of Ecc. 3:7 b: “…a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

  3. mark daymon cotnam

    These are great self checks to help understand motivations. I was in business as a solo practice owner for 25 years and starting out, I’m sure I let myself fall prey to any number of these pitfalls while “trying to build the business.” After a few years and little bit of confidence and track record, I found it much easier to speak up. These past 10 years, I’ve been a part of a big group practice and the problem that is most often front and center is folks not speaking up with the person they are in conflict with but gossiping about the problem behind the other’s back. Healthy communication is an artful process.

  4. Coleen Klecic

    I spoke up for what I believed about something when I was working at a major university. They went after me with a vengeance. I was forced out of a job and at age 60 had a terrible time finding another, and when I finally did, it paid half of what my university job did. Because of all of this, we were never able to pay off pay off our home. Had I kept that job, it would have been paid off. And now at 70, I am exhausted and still working to keep a roof over my head. It’s so easy to tell people to “ speak out in every situation regardless” and put them on a guilt trip when you haven’t held a job in a real workplace. Did the early persecuted church reveal their faith loudly in every situation?

    1. Dave Post author

      Hi Coleen,

      How did you hear about this blog?

      I am so sorry for those difficulties! They are brutal and can make even the most devout Christian wonder where God is while they wait for vindication and relief.

      I try to steer clear of advocating something I myself have not done. We lost many years of income, medical insurance (which we have been without for twenty years), and almost all our savings. I will not go into the details here of what happened, but suffice it to say it was costly and has had far-reaching implications.

      May God minister grace and deep-seated peace in ways that convince you of His care for you!

    2. Dave Post author

      Hi Coleen,

      I wanted to address the early church question you raised. Like any group, the early church was diverse. With respect to being persecuted for their faith, some were willing, others were not. It is what to do with the latter group that Augustine had to address.


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