Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Time to Speak (part 2: 10 ways to Confront in Love)

This post is based on a session given at the 2015 CCEF National Conference. This particular session was titled “10 Ways to Confront in Love” and was presented by Alistair Groves. For more information please visit
In the last post we talked about the foundation we need to build before confronting someone. If you have not read that most please do so first! It’s important to have that groundwork covered before you move forward. But as you do here are 10 ways we can confront in love. (These I learned from Alistair Groves at the conference mentioned above so are not original to me.) They are not in any particular order, but the first 5 should be pursued first before proceeding to the others.

1. Ask questions. Ah how many hurt feelings could be avoided if we learned this art! At the risk of sounding repetitive, please go over the cautions again in the previous post. Do NOT assume that you know what the person meant or that you know what’s wrong. Ask honest, curious-type questions and really listen to them. And how you ask these questions is important to, watch your attitude. It’s easy to ask questions in a critical manner. That will likely result in the other person being defensive and that will only make things more difficult. Do not be critical or make judgments about their motives, feelings, etc. Rather, with gentleness seek to know what is really going on.

“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” - Prov 18:17

2. Encourage. Did you know that your encouragement can actually be a way of confronting someone? You do this by naming and encouraging the good that you see. Indirectly this lets them know that the opposite is not OK. They may need to see the contradiction, and encouraging the good things helps them to see more clearly. 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” - 1 Thes 5:11

3. Remind. Simply remind them of what God wants for their life and what the Holy Spirit is seeking to produce in them. We easily forget that God’s goal for our life is holiness and gently reminding them of that will help to re-orient them to right thinking. Do this without criticizing or telling them what they’re doing wrong. 

“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.”  - 2 Peter 1:12

4. Exhort. This is basically holding up before them what is good and encouraging them to pursue it. Give them a good goal to press towards and show them ways that they could grow. Again, do this with gentleness and without being judgmental. 

“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God.”  - 1 Thes 4:1

5. Acknowledge the difficulty of temptation. Be sensitive to the fact that they may be struggling and that the struggle with temptation is HARD! Saying something like “wow, if that were me I would be tempted to _____, how are you dealing with that?” is a way of helping them realize the fact that they are being tempted and need to be fighting it. 

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” - Prov 13:14

Now these latter 5 begin to feel more like actual “confrontation”. Again, these should be exercised only after the former 5 have been put into practice. Also these steps should only be pursued if you are convinced there is actual sin involved.

6. Express concern. Tell them that you’re concerned, but do NOT give advice. Giving advice or counsel at this point still may mean you are presuming upon their motives and it’s important to wait to see how they respond to this step. Ask more questions to get to their heart. While here you are pressing a little harder still proceed with gentleness, you’re expressing concern not attacking them!

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” - Prov 20:5 

7. Admonish/Warn. This is more like actual correction. It’s saying something like “I don’t think you should be doing that because….” You believe they are doing something that could be sinful so you should have pretty clear Scriptural principles backing you up at this point, and you should be showing it to them. This is also where you would also warn them of implications/consequences. 

“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.” - 1 Cor 4:14

8. Plead/Urge. This takes it a step further. You are urging them to stop and think about what they are doing (or not doing perhaps). Seek to show them how much you care about them and earnestly ask them to reconsider/repent. 

“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus… that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing.” - 1 Tim 6:13-14 

9. Rebuke. One step further that basically says “What you are doing is wrong and you need to stop/repent”. Sin can be very clearly identified, and they are showing resistance to the truth.

“Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” - 1 Tim 5:20

10. Hand over/Cut off. If they are unrepentant, this is where something like church discipline would commence (Matthew 18). If it’s not someone in your church, than you still may need to distance yourself or even cut off your relationship with them but you do so purposefully, clearly telling them that unless they repent you cannot treat them as a fellow Christian. 

"Put away from yourselves the evil person." – 1 Cor 5:13

A few comments on what to do if you’ve done this all wrong… 
-Humbly confess to God where you’ve been wrong and then be willing to go to the person you’ve (most likely) offended with your wrong attitude/approach.
-If the situation was never resolved, now is not the time to try and do it right. You need to simply ask for forgiveness and work to restore the relationship. Sorry to say, you lost the right to speak into their life so don’t presume that you can just pick up where you left off. They may not trust you very much. There may be a time in the future where you can talk to them about the issue and begin to confront them correctly but again, proceed with much caution and prayer.

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