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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Character Assassination

Unresolved conflict can bring out the worst in us. 

You’ve tried to resolve issues but appear to be at a stalemate. What do you do? One unhealthy maneuver is to find ways to attack your opponent’s character. “If I can’t get her to budge, I will do what I can to damage her reputation or credibility!” You don’t have to be around politics long before seeing how character assassination is a popular method to destroy your opponent. 

We certainly do not want to appear aggressive, so we learn to politely malign the person: “I’ve tried everything I know to encourage him, but he refuses to accept help. I wonder if he doesn’t have some deep-seated issues?” Let’s plant a seed of doubt that encourages support for our cause. 

However, character assassination is not limited to the political world. Around any business water cooler, conversations can become opportunities to solicit others to talk about someone not at the cooler. Church people can plant seeds of “concern,” cloaked in the garment of a “prayer request.” No matter how kindly you express your “concern” about the person you are in conflict with, you can (intentionally or unintentionally) attack a person’s character. 

When demeaning an individual’s reputation becomes our focus, we lose sight of the real issue and remove ourselves from constructively resolving our conflict.   

Scripture makes clear that it is an ungodly trait to destroy a person. “With his mouth, the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered” (Proverbs 11:9, ESV). 

Those who demean a person are not wise. “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent” (Proverbs 11:12, ESV). 

Someone said, “It took me a little over two years to learn how to speak. It’s taken over 60 years for me to learn how to be silent.” Speaking is much easier than remaining silent—especially when we’re conflicted. 

Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Though there are certainly times to speak, be mindful as you go about your life if words would help or harm your situation. The question should always be: “What will glorify God?”

-Richard Parrish

*This excerpt is taken from Richard’s new book and curriculum, The Gift of Conflict: The Art of Biblical Reconciliation, which will be released in Fall 2024.


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Jun 12

Absolutely true!

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