My wife and I went on a vacation a couple weeks ago and I had every intention of knocking out Ken Sande’s “Peace Maker,” but I didn’t. In fact I didn’t come close! However, it wasn’t because of a lack of time or focus. It was actually due to the fact that I really want to allow the biblical principles I’m reading concerning personal conflict to “sink-in.” Most of the time I read a book with a mental stopwatch that clicks “start” the moment my eyes hit the first word on the first page and clicks “end” when I turn and finish the last page. This doesn’t lend itself to much reflection. So, in my pursuit of trying to internalize Sande’s book I’m reading it a little slower than I normally would…a lot slower.
For this post, I simply want to share “The Seven A’s of Confession” (Sande, pp. 126). I found these Seven A’s spot-on, powerful, convicting and most of all, apart from the grace of God, very hard, if not impossible to do. Here they are:
- Address everyone involved. If it was a heart sin you need to confess it to God. If it was a social sin that affected other people you need to confess it to the degree that the sin was witnessed. Yeah, that can be loads of fun right?
- Avoid If, But, and Maybe. The words If, But, and Maybe ruin an apology. Don’t use them “if” you want to convey genuineness, authenticity, ownership, brokenness, etc.
- Admit specifically. Most apologies are generic, so what most apologies need is specificity concerning the offense.
- Acknowledge your hurt. Attempt to convey that you understand how the other person felt as a result of your words or actions.
- Accept the consequences. Accepting the consequences of your actions is another way to demonstrate genuine repentance.
- Alter your behavior. If no change occurs is it reasonable to conclude that someone was truly repentant?
- Ask for forgiveness (and allow time). That last part is crucial.
As a Pastor who is tasked with the responsibility of shepherding people, the principles I’m reading in Sande’s book, which are derived from the Word of God, have been tremendously encouraging, as well as challenging. I pray that in the days, weeks, months and years to come that I hold fast to what the Word of God says concerning conflict, rather than my own arbitrary and fleshly ideals and how to, by God’s grace, foster a spirit of reconciliation.