Yesterday's sermon was about Paul's courage in Acts 22:30-23:35. One of the things I mentioned was that character was at the heart of Paul's courage. His ability to stare down the Sanhedrin with a good conscience gave him the ability to confront, confess, and clarify in a difficult time. 

Confrontation is necessary, but is really tricky. I'm certainly not the world's best confronter. In fact, if you injected me with truth serum, I'd tell you I don't feel like I'm good at confrontation at all. But it is certainly an area in which I've seen some improvement over the past few years, having had to have my fair share of difficult conversations in that time. Here are some things I've learned:

1. You can only be direct with someone to the point they know you love them. The hardest work in confrontation should come before there is even a sin issue. People respond well to correction if they know you are "for" them. If they have their doubts, you're in for a tough ride. 

2. Clarity is key. Before I go into a difficult meeting where I know I will need to have a difficult conversation with someone, I spend quite a bit of time preparing. I write out exactly what I hope to say, and spend time praying through those words to make sure they are clear, honest, and to-the-point. You don't want to get into a difficult conversation and forget the issue. 

3. If you minimize the sin by kicking it under the rug, you betray the fact that you don't believe it's important. You have to have hard conversations when sin is in view. 

4. Remember: Good people do bad things for good reasons (and, for that matter, bad people do good things for bad reasons). Jesus makes it abundantly clear throughout His ministry(especially in Matthew 5-7) that He is concerned with the heart as much as the action. If we just confront actions, we miss the opportunity to speak to hearts. 

5. All sin is equally wrong, but not all sin is equally bad. All sin is equally wrong in the sense that it is an act of treason against God. But, all sin is not equally bad. You don't handle a person's bad language in the same way you handle adultery. Each circumstance is different and has to be treated carefully and in a discerning manner. 

So what about you? What are some lessons you've learned about dealing with situations that demand the courage to confront? What could you add to my list? 


Mark Hancock said...

Thanks, Chris.

I like the comment about being direct only to the point that someone knows you love them.

I use the bridge analogy. My relationship with someone is a bridge that is built through time, trust, and love. If the bridge isn't strong enough to carry something heavy, I don't carry it.

Grace and Peace...