April 27, 2022
The Art of Confrontation
Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6 ESV).
Friend to Friend
One of the basic needs of every healthy relationship is confrontation. To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Just as God separates us from our sin, He calls us to do the same in our relationships. We must disconnect who they are from what they do, loving the sinner but hating the sin, looking beyond their weaknesses, searching for their strengths.
Sometimes silence is agreement. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship and the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle. Unfortunately, confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain free to grow and spread its deadly poison.
When my husband became a pastor, it was easy for Dan to work five or six nights a week. The church was exploding in growth, and a crisis was always on the agenda. Being the precious and loving wife I am, I confronted Dan – not in love and not with gentleness. It did not work. I decided to back off and let God work.
One afternoon Dan called to say that a church member had just been hospitalized and he needed to visit them, which meant he would be late – again. However, he promised to shorten his hospital visit and be home as soon as possible.
Danna, my daughter, strolled through the kitchen, checked out the dinner menu, and asked when her dad was coming home. I explained the situation. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and headed for the family room. I soon overheard Danna calling the church office. Then I heard her childlike but powerful words of confrontation, “Dad, please come home. I know that man in the hospital needs you, but there are many doctors there. I only have one daddy.” Dan called one of our deacons, who jumped at the chance to visit someone in the hospital, and Dan came home.
The Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6 ESV). What a strange verse at first glance. But the reality is that true friends are willing to confront each other, perhaps causing a wound, when they see a friend heading in a dangerous direction.
Every relationship in life improves with confrontation done the right way. The more complicated the truth, the more love we must use in sharing it. Here are some simple tips for effective confrontation:
Always begin confrontation with affirmation. Encouraging words set the stage and prepare the heart to hear words of correction.
Be willing to take your part of the blame. I have lived long enough to know that no
conflict is ever totally one-sided. However, taking your share of the blame often diffuses anger.
Express hurt...not hostility. Volume negates listening. Raised voices and angry words slam the door shut on any possible good that can come from confrontation.
Make clear, direct statements. I will often write down what I plan to say; then read it aloud. I can then eliminate unnecessary comments, inflammatory words, or vengeful statements. Stick to the facts.
Avoid using words like “never” and “always.” These words are untrue and accomplish little in a confrontation.
Listen. One of my favorite tactics in confrontations is to use the time the other person is speaking to formulate my next point. I don’t listen because I assume I already know what will be said. Difficult conversations require total attention. Listening validates people and invites them into your life. Refusing to listen is arrogant and self-centered.
Be solution-centered. Make the decision beforehand to stay at the table of confrontation until a solution is found and some measure of restoration is achieved. It is so easy to go for the “let’s get this over with” conversation instead of getting to the heart of the problem.
When correction is delivered with love and gentleness, it is much more likely to be received and acted upon. We can be caring and confronting at the same time. Confrontation is a spiritual exercise and an act of obedience to God that changes lives and builds healthy relationships.
Father, please forgive me when I confront someone in anger or with a bitter heart. Forgive me for the pride that fuels a spirit of revenge when I should be seeking healing and restoration. Be glorified in all of my relationships, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Which one of the seven tips do you need to apply to your life today? What changes would you need to make to use that tip in your life?
More from the Girlfriends
When anger consumes a relationship, there are practical steps you can take to diffuse and disarm the situation with loving confrontation. Learn how to confront in Mary’s book, You Make Me So Angry.
Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2022 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.