Steven Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, calls successful compromise a Win-Win for both parties. In other words, both parties leave feeling that they have been heard and their opinions valued, and the solution maintains those beliefs and ideals most important to each side. For instance, Bill wants Chinese but Sarah wants Italian. The compromise? Chinese this week and Italian next week. If Bill and Sarah decide to go to a steakhouse, which neither likes, then this compromise is useless.
While some compromises can be merely unsatisfying, others can be downright dangerous. We have heard stories of over-the-counter drugs being tampered with, or the structure of a building or bridge suffering damage. Even more common are the reports of computer systems whose security walls have been breached, leaving millions of people’s identities at risk. To put it simply, when the item or structure has been damaged, then its integrity has been compromised, and trust and credibility is lost.
As Christians we are often seen as intolerant or rigid in our beliefs because we won’t happily ride the ebb and flow of some societal changes because they run counter to our Christian values. However, sometimes we find ourselves willing to go along with the flow. Whether it is because we don’t want to feel the sting of a verbal attack or we want to enjoy forbidden fruit, we will sometimes compromise our values. But when we do our integrity is compromised, and people now question the sincerity of our faith. As a result, our Christian witness is damaged and difficult to rebuild.
Yes, we need to work together. We need to listen to others and understand what is important to them. But that does not mean we must agree with every opinion, and it certainly doesn’t mean we need to compromise God’s truth.