“Failure to confront is permission to continue” ~ Dr. Jennifer Delger
Confrontation is never easy and most people are uncomfortable with it. However, there are times when we need to move past our feelings and confront whatever it is that has upset or affected us. Often times we may choose not to confront, because we assume the confrontation will open the door to contention. Not all confrontations equal conflict.
There have been times that I have needed to confront someone. Some of those times, the confrontation was received well, and other times, not so well. There have also been times when I should have confronted someone and chose not to. The main reason for choosing not to confront, usually stems from fear, fear of rejection or consequences, or preferring not to deal with it and try to ignore it; which never resolves anything.
I have also been on the receiving end of confrontation. One such confrontation came from one of my oldest friends, Lisa. During the time that my now husband, Doug, and I were engaged to be married we decided to live together. We were both Christians, but God was not a part of our daily life. We chose to put our selfish needs and wants above the way we knew God has designed marriage. We thought we could do what we wanted and then once married, we would begin to seek God more. I hid the fact that we were living together from Lisa.
There came a time when she began to suspect we were living together and she confronted me. It was hard to tell her the truth because I knew she would be disappointed. A few days after our brief phone conversation I received a letter from her. In the letter she reminded me of the love she had for me, my young daughter, and for Doug. She also explained her disappointment, as well as consequences that our choice could have, not only for us, but my daughter later on in life. She stated that because we were choosing to live together before marriage, she needed to step down from her position in our Bridal party, although she would still attend the wedding. She felt that she could not stand at the alter with us, knowing how we chose to go outside of God’s best for our relationship. (If you’re interested in knowing the full story you can read it in my book A Scarlet Cord of Hope- www.SherylGriffin.com)
Years later, when Lisa and I were reminiscing about that season of life, she confessed that it was very hard for her to write that letter to me. She wasn’t sure if it would be the end of our friendship or not. Years earlier, she had confronted another friend in a similar situation and it completely destroyed their friendship. While she hoped that there would be a different outcome, she knew she had to confront me. She wanted to speak truth in love, despite her fear that it may ruin our friendship. I am happy to tell you that it did NOT end our friendship and I still have her letter and reference it often.
There is always a chance that whomever you are confronting may not agree or desire the same outcome as you. If this happens, you only have control over yourself, say what you need to say, and move on until the other person is willing to communicate with you. You may need to consider placing a boundary in that relationship.
The Bible address confrontation in Matthew chapter 18.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
To apply this scripture to any relationship where a confrontation is necessary (a fellow believer or not), here are ten things to consider before and during a confrontation.
1. If you are hesitant or feeling unsure, inadequate, or fearful, consider the problems that won’t be a potential on going issue, if you confront now.
2. Don’t assume the other person’s response or reasoning.
3. Be willing to extend grace.
4. Speak directly to the person you need to confront BEFORE you speak to or involve others (if necessary).
5. Keep in mind, confrontation is not a venting session and should not be done with a vengeful motive.
6. Be clear and realistic in your communication and expectations.
7. Confirm your commitment to the relationship to the other person involved.
8. Be clear on the consequences (both positive and negative).
9. Pray before you talk to the other person and if appropriate ask to pray with them, before you begin the conversation. Ending with prayer (together or by yourself) helps bring closure and ultimately leaves it in Gods hand. Face to face conversations are always best, however, that may not be an option. In that case, a phone call is sufficient.
10. Don’t allow your emotions to overshadow the facts.
Of course, there is no guarantee if you follow all of these suggestions that it will resolve every situation you need to confront in the way you may desire. However, they will help you stretch and grow in your communication skills as well as encourage you to become an example of finding hope in confrontation.
There is hope in confrontation.
Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.