Confrontation – always difficult, often necessary.
We tend to default toward one of two paths; either we run from it or we find ourselves continually confronting everything
Are you one of those people who will do anything to avoid a face-to-face encounter when something difficult must be discussed?
We become frustrated, boiling on the inside, but when the issue is raised, we smile and nod as though we’re in total agreement. Then we walk away, irritated with ourselves because we had the opportunity but we didn’t say the things that needed to be said.
The other side of the coin expresses itself with confrontation of every issue at every level, be it large or small. We see ourselves as truthful or direct, but others see us as hurtful, combative, and controlling, often displaying a total lack of awareness of the other side of the issue or the feelings of the people involved.
Now personally, I never had too many problems confronting people. In fact, I used to be overly confrontational, so the issue was more about how I handled confrontation. I had to learn how to confront people and situations the way Jesus did.
I had to learn the lessons of Jesus on confrontation
Jesus was never afraid to confront, but his confrontation was strategic and specific. If anyone had the right to confront, He did. He was perfect; the world then and now is not, yet despite what we would think, He didn’t waste time trying to right every wrong, nor did he white wash over issues that needed attention. Amazingly, some of the things we would have addressed, he left unspoken and other things that we would never have noticed, he challenged head on.
For myself, my confrontation style and attitude was transformed at a deep level when I had been wrongly accused. All the initial emotions began to rise, but before I made any response I went before the Lord and I received one word: “wait!” There was a series of meetings, good friends suggesting that I had been wrongly accused, even suggesting that I get even. This went on for over a month and all the time the word never changed – ‘wait!’
I was given the opportunity to respond to each accusations in writing, but before I responded I went before the Lord and prayerfully prepared my response. Again through this time I was told to wait.
Then all went quiet and nothing happened. One morning as I was journaling I wrote that this situation was difficult and challenging and the Lord’s responded “it is now my situation, I need to stand firm and watch.”
So that it what I did and within a couple of weeks I was completely exonerated and all charges were dismissed. When I received the official notification the date on the letter was the day that the Lord had taken the burden off me.
From this moment God called me to live differently when it comes to confrontation. He surrounded me with steps to move through these situations which I have pleasure in sharing with the readers of this blog
Follow God’s Lead
Make sure God is leading you to initiate the encounter. One of the best ways I found to discern God’s leading is to detect my excitement level. If I am too excited, I can very easy suffer from pride. I wait until I sense humility tugging at me along with a healthy sense of dread to confront someone in love.
The temptation is to confront someone just to make ourselves feel better or to hurt someone who has hurt us. But that is not love. The goal in confrontation is restoring our relationship with them and their relationship with God.
Request A Private Meeting
In order to be effective and protect the relationship, I strong recommend that you approach them in private. In my case above many people knew about the situation before I did and made a judgement call very early. The Bible says, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense,” (Matthew 18:15). Follow these words to maintain your relationship.
While it is easier to stuff our hurt down deep inside, or to gossip about them to others – the first loving step is to confront them in private. And, if you don’t get the immediate response you desire, you can still win – especially if you pray and allow the Holy Spirit to work in a person’s heart. But you must be willing to take the risk and confront the situation in order to bring about the change you desire. If you don’t, things will remain the same – or get worse.
Prepare to share your thoughts
Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance moment to moment. Make sure your own feelings are in check so that each word and thought is conveyed in love. I find it helpful to write it down first and remember to always consider the other person. It’s a tough position to be confronted, so be compassionate.
Similarly, preparing for confrontation is almost as important as the confrontation itself. Confronting someone spontaneously or without preparation can have disastrous results. Preparation allows you to look at the situation more clearly and not in the midst of an emotional moment, and will most likely lead to a more effective encounter.
Tell the truth and leave the rest to God
I cannot over emphasize this enough. Protect your integrity. Don’t overdo it. Communicate the truth that God has placed on your heart and then let His Spirit do the inner work. The words you speak will be confirmation and they will know it (even if they don’t admit it).
Offer grace and support
Healthy confrontation is not about holding another person’s sin against them. It’s about being a conduit for God’s correction. Rightly motivated confrontation will always be followed by a natural stream of compassion and support.
At no time should your goal be to tell someone off, or get something off your chest, or lay a guilt trip on them. So it’s important that you first confront yourself. Be honest about why you’ve decided to confront the issue. Do you have an ulterior motive such as resentment or wounded pride, or do you want to see a genuine change in behaviour? You need to ask yourself, ‘When this confrontation is over, what behaviour do I want to see the offender change?’ Remember, in effective confrontation you are looking for a desired outcome and a win-win for both sides
God can work on both ends of the line. While you are praying and preparing your heart, He can prepare the other person’s heart. I found at the end of my encounter that I had no malice or hatred towards the person. God had done a great work on my heart.
If you are not comfortable about confronting another person seek the Lord, waiting for the Lord to nudge your spirit and be completely obedient to his leading.
A final thought
I wish I never had to deal with conflict. Yet it wasn’t until I began I began to understand conflict didn’t always have to do damage and inn fact, it was possible to have conflict with a person and to feel closer to them in the wake of it.
This has become a revolutionary idea to me. It requires dedication, persistence and the willingness to forgive when things go poorly. In other words, my desire is that as I travel through conflict, it mirrors the rest of my Christian walk.