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While agreement is wonderful, sometimes conflict is better than consensus.

For many Christians, consensus is next to godliness, and conflict means trouble, maybe even spiritual warfare.

But while agreement is wonderful and unanimity comfortable, sometimes conflict is better than consensus.

Consider the experience of Jerry Harvey, professor of management science at George Washington University, reported in his book The Abilene Paradox and other Meditations on Management. Here's his story:

We were visiting my wife's family in Coleman, Texas, which is 53 miles from Abilene. Her dad ran a pool hall and domino parlor right outside of town. The Baptists would get upset if he tried to run it in town. …

It was the middle of the summer-106 degrees, with a dust storm howling-and we were sitting there playing dominoes.

Suddenly my father-in-law stood up and blurted, "Let's go to Abilene and eat at the cafeteria."

I thought, Man, is that dumb, but I didn't want to say anything. My wife said, "It sounds great, but I don't want to go unless you go, Jerry."

I said, "I was ...

From Issue:Winter 1993: Conflict
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