I’ve been perusing through a book that I read several years ago called “Crucial Confrontations: Tools for resolving broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior” and I wanted to write a couple words about some statements made in this book, as well as some personal thoughts on the issue.
By “crucial confrontations” the author means face to face conversations that individuals need to have for the purposes of keeping them accountable. How many of us have had those types of conversations? I can remember having a lot of them, but I didn’t initiate them; my parents usually did and I was the one being kept accountable. But in recent years in my pastoral role I have had several conversations where it was incumbent upon me to take the reigns and initiate a “crucial confrontation.” In my mental preparation for such a conversation I think and meditate on what Paul says in Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Paul says, (1) be spiritual, (2) be gentle, and (3) evaluate your own life. This text has tremendously helped me over the years in evaluating whether or not I’m in the right “spirit” or frame of mind to confront someone, as well as whether or not my motives are pure; because the truth is, sometimes I want to take justice into my own hands, which is a position that is God’s alone and not mine to take – I could have said “sometimes we want to take justice into our own hands”, but I didn’t because I know “no one” struggles with what I just wrote…right?
If you’re like me broken promises happen all the time; people exemplify bad behavior in front of you or someone you work with or someone working for you isn’t meeting your expectations and you’ve probably sat wondering, “what am I supposed to do?” For me, the answer has typically been, “you need to confront the situation.” But a lot of times I cower from doing so because, well, no one likes someone who “rocks the boat.” And though I could write voluminously about this topic I won’t, but I will simple say three things then be done – promise.
- Confrontation is a necessity if you’re in the ministry. In fact, a cogent argument could be made that every Sunday morning when preachers stand up to preach the Word they’re having a conversation of confrontation; they’re confronting sinners with the reality of their sin and the plight of that condition and then pointing (hopefully) individuals to the work and person of Christ Jesus.
- Confrontation is too many times ignored. Confrontation is simply a reality if you’re a pastor. A pastor does not have the freedom to sit back and be a neutral observer of situations that require attention. When a situation is ignored it can become a cancer that will eat the church alive – I’ve seen this happen first-hand and it’s ugly to watch. In addition, in taking a more masculine understanding of the nature of confrontation I believe confrontation speaks to the “rule and subdue” call that Scripture gives to men in Genesis. Men who cower from having difficult conversations are in that instance abdicating their role and responsibility.
- Confrontation is never easy and shouldn’t be enjoyed.