When is it ok to confront others?
In recent years, I’ve begun to learn to live in peace with others as much as possible. It took time to learn not to judge others and to accept correction from others. When authority figures have abused us as children it can be difficult to learn the difference between judging others and confronting behavior that needs to confronted.
When I was a child I was taught that it was wrong to stand up for myself. In response to having my boundaries trampled, I made an inner vow of judgment that no one would ever hurt me again. Making this inner vow made it difficult to accept anyone who had authority over me. Subconsciously, I believed they were always trying to hurt me.
God began to soften my heart and teach me to accept those in authority over me and to learn not to judge others motives. He taught me that not everyone in authority was out to hurt me and that there are times when we need to respect authority even when we don’t agree with it. There are times, however, when other people’s behavior needs to be confronted.
When David failed to confront his son, Amnon, for raping his sister, Tamar. The failure to confront Amnon had long term ramifications in David’s family that lasted for generations. The bible teaches us that there are times when people need to be confronted. Jesus confronted the money changers in God’s temple. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about confronting people in the church who were living in sin. Notice that in both cases the people being confronted were believers! Christians have a reputation for judging those in the world and the bible is clear that we are not to judge those who don’t believe, but to lead by example, pray for them, love on them and let God do the changing of their hearts.
So how do we confront others?
- We first seek God. Prayer and reading scripture on the subject can help us to confront others the way God has instructed us to. (Matthew 18:15-17)
- Ask God to reveal your motive for confronting this person. Is it out of pride? (Matthew 7:3-5)
- Seek Godly counsel. Sometimes we might need to talk with someone who has more experience in this area than we have. This does not mean that we run and tell all our friends. We should seek the counsel of someone who can be objective for the purpose of guiding us and pointing us in the direction that God would have us go.
- Pray. Pray for God to give you the words to respectfully deal with this person and pray that their hearts will receive and understand the correction as a learning experience rather than an accusation or attack.
- Bring in re-enforcements. If you confront someone in a spirit of humility and they refuse to receive correction then you need to go to someone who can help support you. (getting another perspective can help the situation)
- Go to the leaders of your church and ask for help in confronting this person.
- If they refuse to listen after all of these steps have been followed than you will need to take action to remove them from the situation.
All of these steps should be taken prayerfully with discretion, humility and with love as the motivation. Love for the person you are confronting and love for those that have been affected by the behavior.
What have you learned about confronting others? Please share your experiences, the good, the bad and what lessons you learned as a result.