Engaging Culture

Five Non-Christian Habits Christians Need to Learn

I say “non-Christian” because for many reasons, Christian culture looks down on them. They have not been considered traditional Christian behaviors. But one of the big reasons we’re losing our voice in today’s culture is that we don’t understand and master these critical habits.  Here’s the list:

1) Confrontation:   Old Testament prophets and early church leaders weren’t afraid to call people out. When it comes to the gospel, the stakes are too high to settle. Paul trained Timothy to be gracious, but be firm. It’s time we got back to raising the standard in our behavior, our commitment, our attitudes, and our excellence. Be gracious and be loving. But when evil happens, or a brother’s behavior is out of line, we can’t be afraid to confront.

2) Conflict:   Speaking the truth invariably creates conflict because someone won’t like it. So we have a choice – either stand up or shrink back. We don’t have to be jerks or control freaks. But there are times when we do have to be bold. Just ask the Coptic-Christians being persecuted in the Middle East. The Bible says that “Iron sharpens iron” – but that only happens when the two pieces of iron slam against each other.

3) Be Ruthless:    Be ruthless in one important area: Yourself. Be ruthless about your commitment to Christ. Be ruthless about your intellectual growth. Be ruthless about finishing well. One of the biggest areas we should be ruthless about is our time. How much time do you spend complaining about your problems to people who can’t help you solve them? How much time do you talk when you should be doing? When it comes to others, be gracious. But when it comes to you and your time, be ruthless.

4) Judge:   We’ve really screwed up this one. When the Bible talks about judgement, it’s talking about people, not behavior, quality of work, or results. We can’t possibly judge the motivation of someone’s heart or their standing before God. But can absolutely judge external results. In the false name of “not judging” we’ve allowed employees to do shabby work, projects to be ineffective, and doctrine to be compromised. Perhaps most of all, we’ve allowed pastors and Christian leaders to disregard moral standards without reproach, which erodes the Church’s moral authority within the culture.

5) Say No:   Warren Buffett says “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Obviously, you can take it too far, but when you don’t say no, you spend your life focused on other people’s priorities, not your priorities. Certainly we want to help people and be servants. But if God has called you to accomplish something with your life, you’ll have to say no to many things.  In fact, learn to say no even to good things, so you can accomplish great things.

Obviously, in all of these areas you can be extreme and exhibit negative behaviors. But just read the Bible to see how each of these areas were mastered in ways that allowed people to follow God’s call and accomplish great things.

(Warning: I take no responsibility for any self-righteous critics you may encounter as you demonstrate these habits.)

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32 Comments

  1. I love this post! Every Christian needs to read this! I work for a Christian organization and trying to integrate some of these principles into our culture is extremely difficult because they are so foreign to people! Thanks for sharing!

    Doug

  2. I especially appreciate the Confrontation and Conflict items. As a student at a Ivy League university and a dedicated Christian, it forever amazes me the “thin” skin most Christians possess in the Western Church. I say Western Church because for the past 15 years, I have worked with the Middle Eastern Church, particularly in Iran and believe me, they are not thin skinned! Their beliefs require thick skin as their lives are daily in jeopardy. In my time at Harvard, I have daily, intense and often times sparking conversations and debates with people opposed to my way of life. However, we remain friends even when we disagree. The strength of our debate and passion does not send us pouting to our corners offended. It makes us stronger in our positions. We have to develop this art if we are going to be an influence in the world! Great article!

  3. Great article.

    One thing you may want to update: you said “flaunt” (to show off) when you meant “flout” (to blatantly disregard).

    1. Hey, it’s working already. I wasn’t afraid to raise our standards in excellence by confronting. 😉

  4. This is why I really like you, Phil! I get tired of Christians generally taking on a “namby-pamby” meek role that does not seem to be at all how God intends us to operate. I re-posted this on my Facebook – and NOT one person commented – I think my peeps highly disagreed with the viewpoint, and again, probably thought I was off-base. I stick to my guns! Well written and to-the-point!

  5. Spot on Phil. Liked your comment about being ruthless in our commitment to Christ and finishing well.

  6. Phill
    I see your 5 comments.I have 13 verses from 1st corinthians 13:1 – 13. ( LOVE ) Philippians 3:10(Ho that I may know Him the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. )let’s not worry about non believers.If we just pick up our cross and follow Him we can win them over.

  7. I agree that these habits are needed more in the Body of Christ. It’s because I have these habits already that I am often shunned by other Christians. But one word change Id make in your post. I’d not use the term “Ruthless”. I would use the term ” persistent” instead. If we are persistent and driven in our own pursuit of wisdom and understanding while remaining gracious and merciful in our attitude toward a weaker person. Than we are wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.
    Id also like permission to use your post on my own site to inspire my own friends with your post.

    1. Good thought on “ruthless” – although I was trying to drive home a point… 🙂
      And yes – feel free to repost. As long as you link back to this blog, I’m happy for you to repost anything you like…

  8. This is an encouraging message for believers – get focused… for such a time in culture as this. Opportunities for believers to speak up are presenting themselves more and more, and will continue to do so as our cultural trends continue to divide us spiritually, and morally. HOW we confront, and the spirit in which we do it in is the tie-breaker. Your post is right on. Thanks for all you do Phil… helping to equip the body of Christ on multiple levels.

  9. Not a single mention of your tattoos and piercings… Look up what your loving god says should be done to you. Hypocrites…

      1. He may have put it out a bit softer than most radicals do, but he is indeed supporting radicalism. If you want to follow “the word of god”, at least be consistent.

    1. That isn’t the author in the picture. It’s a post about things worldly people do that Christians should do more of, thus the photo of someone who embodies worldliness without saying anything about tattoos or piercings.

  10. Spot on Phil. I would add that we need to add the heart of the Father to back all this up. It’s a challenge to hold both of these in tension viz being radical yet having His heart of goodness. Tough love is roughlife!

  11. Good stuff, Sir. Except this last part:
    ” I take no responsibility for any self-righteous critics you may encounter as you demonstrate these habits.”

    Whatever happened to bearing one another’s burdens? ;>)

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