First Step to Confront with Grace – And Linkup

Last week I introduced the idea that “grace” is not only shown when we overlook an offense, or even when we hold our tongue and patiently pray for God to convict the other party, but it’s also shown when we confront our offender.

But how can that be considered “grace”—to confront someone?

Doesn’t that sound harsh? Or even worse . . .

Doesn’t it “feel” very wrong to call it “grace”—especially when we’re the ones being confronted?

Face of Grace

I certainly don’t want to give the wrong impression that anytime we confront others, it is our friendly pal, that I affectionately dubbed (last week), “Connie” for short. Sometimes Connie’s evil twin, “Conrad” shows up when we confront others. That would be when we leave graciousness out of the equation.

But when we show the face of grace—nicknamed Connie—in times of confrontation, we will strive to be gracious. In other words . . .

Believe it or not, the Bible tells us that there are actually times when grace is shown through confrontation. And I’m not just talking about a gracious attitude being shown, though that’s certainly one of the ways.

Aren’t we showing “grace” when we teach our children the right way to act in life and relationships? To ignore their missteps and sins would be uncaring at least and despicable at worst. It’s the same with others in our lives.

However, it is important to know when and if to confront.

Here are three criteria that I think are essential to this decision:

  1. The offense has created a wall between you and the other person or caused you to feel differently toward him or her for more than a short period of time.
  2. The offense is causing serious harm (to God’s reputation, to you, to others, or to the offender).
  3. The offense is part of a destructive pattern.

If you answered “yes” to any of these options, then you probably need to move toward confronting.

The Bible gives us a proper and gracious protocol for confrontation. I’d like to focus on only one step this week and unpack the others in the weeks to come. The first is found in Matthew 18:15,

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

If the sin of your offender fits at least one of the options I shared above, then it’s quite possible that the most gracious thing you could do for that person is to talk with him/her about it.

But before you go, be sure to pray, pray, pray!

1. Pray as a way to process your feelings, asking God to give YOU insight into your part, as well as asking God to soften your heart toward your offender.

2. Pray as a way to prepare your offender’s heart—asking God to soften his/her heart and open your offender’s eyes to any sins. (I talked about this in my last post.)

3. Pray just before you meet with your offender, and if he/she is willing and open to it, pray with him or her before you begin to talk.

Basics of the First Step when Confronting . . .

1. Go privately to your offender.

Never start the confrontation process publicly. Instead, help your offender to “save face” by being sensitive to his or her feelings.

2. Stick with one issue.

Never come at your offender with a long list of wrongs he or she has committed. This will not only overwhelm your offender, but will surely fire up defensiveness as well. Then you’ll both be tempted to argue, rather than to remain calm.

3. Maintain a tone and attitude that communicates graciousness and humility.

This might be the most important of these steps, but cannot be achieved with out prayerful preparation and complete reliance on God.

4. Realize that this step may require more steps.

Wouldn’t it be great if our offender “listened” and was “won over” after being confronted? (Mt. 18:15) Sadly, this isn’t the case all that often. So be realistic, while also hopeful and persevering in this process.

 

What other “steps” would you add to those I’ve shared regarding confrontation?

 

What would you add that should be avoided in times of confrontation? 

 

Be sure to scroll down to comment below!


Here are some lovely linkups I joinChristian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Writer Wednesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Faith and Friends, Sitting Among Friends, Moments of Hope, Literary Musing Mondays, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage

  • Beth, when I was wrestling over whether to approach someone over something I spoke with an older, wiser saint. She said that when we are eager to confront, that probably is our flesh and not our role. When we really don’t want to but sense we need to, then it’s probably the Holy Spirit prompting us. That helped me. I was dreading talking to this person but sensed I had to. And the Lord went before me. I’ve remembered her wisdom and heeded it.

    • Calvonia Radford

      Great advice. Thanks for sharing.

    • That’s a great rule of thumb, Debbie. Thanks for adding it to the conversation, my friend! I hope you had a great Mother’s Day!

  • pioneerpat1

    Thanks for the words of wisdom, always interesting. I always try to wait before confronting people but your words taught me something.

    Thanks for hosting and have a great rest of the week.

    • I’m so glad that you wait before confronting, Patrick. That’s sometimes hard for me and sometimes easy–depending on who it is! ha! And thanks for the kind words. I’m glad it gave you something new to consider.

  • Approaching the person humbly is important and as a friend. I had to confront the school principal, recently, and I said I was coming as a friend and if I were in her situation I would want to know this. Also telling a story can help. I have on occasion told my husband a story (like Uriah did to David) that does not include me, and then said I felt like the person in the story. People identify with stories that do not accuse them or involve you or them.

    • Calvonia Radford

      Yes, Theresa! Object lessons and parables work well. It’s a gently approach.

    • Both of your ideas are great ones, Theresa. I feel like it’s always so important to be humble in these kinds of situations. It really helps the other person to drop their defenses, when they know that we can relate and come with an attitude of patience and care. I love the idea of an object lesson too. Gary Smalley used to talk about the power of that in marriage–many, many years ago! ha! I remember it was in some videos he did about 25 years ago. Yikes! That’s dating me! ha! Thanks for adding to the conversation, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth, and a really good treatment of a vital topic…one a lot of people really mess up.

    Things I’d suggest –

    * Pick the right time, when the person you’re approaching is in a neutral mood. Adding to a bad day will be counterproductive, and ‘ruining’ a good one will be resented.

    * Know the other person’s background. My wife’s mother always clobbered people with a litany of everything they’d done wrong for years, and Barbara expects that. She’ll tune me out right quick, as she did her mom, so I have had to find other ways of ‘confrontation’.

    * Another way to confront…I have an outdoor workbench which I still occasionally use, though my strength and incentive are failing fast. Barb had started using it for storage of yard items, so, in her sight, I removed them and placed them elsewhere (without comment or bitter mien) and when I was done, just said, “OK, that’ll do.” The message was received; she didn’t realize I still had some work left in me.

    * Remember that each confrontation is an upset of equilibrium, like taking the brakes off a car and letting it roll downhill. There is always the potential for the situation, however minor it may seem, to escalate out of control. Be mindful of this, and be ready to disengage and, if necessary, backpedal if it starts going south.

    * And ask yourself, “Is this really important, or is it just that my pride’s been hurt?” There are a lot of hills that ain’t worth dyin’ on.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/05/your-dying-spouse-308-on-being-miracle.html

    • Patricia A Krank

      Love this too!

    • Calvonia Radford

      Yeah, yeah, yeah! Great extension to the lesson. Thanks!

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  • Susan

    Better is open rebuke than love kept in secret. Proverbs 27.5 Now, the WAY that is done is KEY!!!!

    • Yes, this is a great verse, Susan! There truly is a need to deal with some issues or longstanding conflicts instead of letting them slide, simply because we fear conflict. But yes, you’re also right about the “way” it is done being everything. Thanks for adding to the conversation, my friend!

  • Patricia A Krank

    This series is just SO good Beth. Confrontation is one of the hardest things for me but you are right, it is a way to show love to another. Your steps for confrontation are so right on. Thank you for this 🙂

    • Yes, Patti, it truly is a way to show love. That reminds me of the oldie but goodie book by James Dobson–Love Must Be Tough. I don’t think that means we should be hateful or harsh when confronting. But we should hold firmly to what is true in a loving and compassionate way. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • You put together a great list of how and yes pray, pray, pray!! I prefer to walk away from conflict, but that also isn’t good.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jenn! Yes, prayer is so very important to this process–praying continually from beginning to the end and then some! 😉

  • This is so helpful.
    Jesus was gentle and used His words with grace, but He did not shy away from confrontation when it was needed. Confession: I am very lazy about this.

    • Thanks, Michele! Yes, Jesus is a great example of how we should confront when it is needed. Years ago I began to keep a database of all the Bible verses I came across that talked about Jesus setting boundaries. I eventually abandoned that effort, but need to look back at what I gathered. It probably would give me a lot of insight into this very issue! 😉 Thanks for being so open and kind, my friend!

  • Calvonia Radford

    My natural temperament flees confrontation. However, I have learned that confronting graciously prevent negative, endless arguments down the road as well as sets boundaries to prevent repeat offenses. God’s way is the best way. I appreciate you suggested that we save face. That’s huge. Embarrassment for the offender especially a male is a recipe for disaster.

    • Yes, and yes, Calvonia! Stepping up to confront when it is needed can be such a healing agent in the life of a relationship. It’s painful for both parties, but so worth it when done well. And yes, God’s way of confronting is always the best, though it can be hard to understand exactly what that looks like. I agree about “saving face” for anyone, but in particular males. In general, I think men tend to feel emasculated by a woman’s open rebuke. That’s why it must be done respectfully all along the way. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • Ruth

    This is very good advice! Thank you for sharing.
    I think one other thing to pray about is for God’s guidance in timing. He alone knows the best time for this to take place. He alone knows the hearts of both the offended and the offender.

    • Thank you, Ruth! You bring up a good consideration. Timing is so very important to confrontation. And you also bring up another point–praying for God’s guidance on when to confront or not. It’s absolutely essential if we want this to be a positive and redemptive encounter for both parties. Thanks for your insights, my friend!

  • This is good advice, Beth. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to say something, not be silent. It’s hard for me to do, but in the end it is usually helpful (although it sometimes takes awhile to get to the end, ha). Thanks for sharing this hard lesson with us.

    • Thanks so much, Lisa! Yes, sometimes it is. I think most people tend to avoid it in fear that it won’t be considered loving. But then we are making it about ourselves and our sense of comfort in the moment.

      It’s hard for me too, but I also have seen how, when I’ve graciously confronted an issue, it has brought healing and closeness to those relationships. Thanks for being vulnerable about your challenge in this area. I can see that in how sweet and compassionate you are from your blog. Hugs to you!

  • Beth, this is such an important subject, one that many people fail to understand. I ask people, “What would you do if someone you loved was blindly standing on the edge of a cliff? Would you pull them back?” We need to be willing to lovingly do the same spiritually. You really laid it all out well! I look forward to the rest in the series. Pinning & sharing, my friend!

    • Yes, I remember having a conversation with a “best” friend who was determined to continue an affair and divorce her husband. She didn’t like me confronting her. She thought that since we were best friends I should support her every decision. But I remember telling her that I felt like I was pulling her back from the edge of a cliff. She did NOT see it that way at all.

      Upon reflection, I don’t know that I did a very good job of confronting her with grace. I was pretty young at the time. So, who knows, I might have pushed her ever closer to that cliff by my argumentativeness. Hmmm, I don’t know. But I surely have learned a lot from that difficult moment and hope that gracious is evident in any difficult conversations I have now.

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  • I appreciate your thoughts here Beth. This is a tough one, and I’ve had it go south even with my best efforts. Prayer is so key to allowing God time to pave the way. It also gives me time to let Him soften my heart and fine tune my perspective. Great wisdom here!

    • Yes, it is, Crystal. I have too–confrontations going south, that is. Prayer truly is key, but even with prayer sometimes it can spiral out of control. I don’t want this series to sound as if it’s a surefire way to avoid trouble when confronting someone. These are all safeguards and cautious steps, but we are human at the end of the day! I’d say, though, that even when my conflicts have gone “south,” God redeems them and, most of all, refines me in the process. I’ve seen it over and over, so it eases my anxiety when it comes to confronting. God’s got this!