You cannot be afraid to confront others when it's necessary--but what a feared subject! Most people hate any form of confrontation and will avoid it at all costs—even if it could really bring peace in an ugly situation. But I ask you to approach the idea of confrontation in a whole new way. For example, I’ve been taught that I have no right to complain in a situation until I’ve taken the time to confront.
Now please keep in mind that my context for the area of confrontation is within the church, and in regard to ladies that are under my pastoral care or yours. I’m not suggesting that you become a “confrontation machine” and mindlessly begin to harass friends, neighbors, and others in regard to anything about their personality that you don’t particularly care for. That’s not the right idea at all!
I’m am talking about constructive correction in the life of one you care for, but especially one that you’ve been entrusted to lead in the Kingdom of God. You see, many times there is a victory or breakthrough that can only come on the other side of a kind, heartfelt confrontation.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful. (Proverbs 27:6)
A true friend will tell you what you need to hear to improve yourself even if it causes pain initially. Someone in your life who acts like you can do no wrong and constantly flatters you is not truly a friend.
I once heard John Bevere of Messenger International share an interesting story about himself. In the early days of his ministry, he worked at a local church. He really prided himself on being the pastor everyone liked; by his own admission, he only told people things that wouldn’t offend them or hurt their feelings. His reputation for being a “nice guy” grew and grew within his church. But one day, the Lord dealt with him during his prayer time. The Lord showed him that he really didn’t love others if he wasn’t willing to say the things that might sting a little. You see, love for someone else will say the hard things, even if it won’t be popular.
As I mentioned before, there is sometimes a level of victory only to be seen on the other side of confrontation. Confrontation comes from a place of love, though. Let’s mention what confrontation is not. It is not a time for pent up anger or aggression to be released upon another. Its objective is not to wound someone else, or to break their spirit. Confrontation comes only after carefully considering what really happened. It should not be initiated while one is angry—take the time needed to work through any anger or frustration.
I know firsthand what happens when you confront another in anger. Your visible anger evokes a defense mechanism in the one you’re confronting. They won’t have an open mind to receive what you’re bringing, and it will be a losing effort from the start.
Do it this way instead.
* Spend time in prayer before approaching someone for a confrontation. Make sure that you’re not just being overly sensitive or easily offended in the matter. This is an especially important step for women, because we tend to be sensitive and have been known to pick up an offense on behalf of someone else!
* Also, be sure it’s the right timing—don’t do it in a crowded place where the person could feel embarrassed or belittled in front of others. I’ve learned through experience to try to make the whole event as non-threatening as possible. Get alone in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. If her children need tending while you’re talking, ask a trustworthy lady if she would kindly watch them while you have a discussion.
* Use soft voice tones and make sure that your voice is not accusing. You don’t want to appear as if your mind has already been made up about the situation—especially when you haven’t heard her side of the story yet.
* I choose to begin a lot of confrontational situations in the following manner: “From my perspective, this is what took place…” That’s a safe place to begin, because it’s a neutral statement that isn’t accusing her.
* Make sure that you give her a chance to defend herself, or rather to explain her side of the incident. And don’t interrupt her when she does. Remember that women need to know that they’ve been listened to, and not just heard. Her view point matters a whole lot—she may bring a side to the story that you completely over looked.
* Bring paper and pencil with you for the purpose of taking notes. Many times, when I’m engaged in the “listening” aspect of the confrontation, she will say something that sparks a thought inside of me. To avoid interrupting her before I lose the thought, I simply make a note of it and bring it up when she's finished.
* Approach the situation knowing that you could end up completely wrong in regard to what took place. You must be mature enough to admit your mistake and apologize for any inconvenience you’ve caused. This may be a challenge for you, but your apology for a mistake will only elevate you in the eyes of the one you’re engaged with. A failure to apologize could leave her in a place of doubt and questioning your character.
* Above all, kindness is the rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I always try to approach confrontation like this…I think about how I want my son or daughter to be treated in a like situation. One day, they will be out from under my roof, possibly serving in ministry somewhere far away. I want to sow seeds of fairness and kindness that will come back to them as a harvest. I don’t want them to reap judgment and cruelty in this area because I sowed bad seeds.
There is no substitution for the leading of the Holy Spirit with confrontation. Remember that He can lead you in unique and special ways to do what is best for the person you’re working with.
(This article is an excerpt taken from the book Leading Ladies in the House of God, by Brigit Lee.)