How do you handle confrontation? How do you deal with friends when you know they are making very unwise decisions that are harmful to themselves and others?
As Christ followers, the scripture directs us to take some action: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1). The call is for the spiritual ones to seek for restoration for the one who is caught in sin (unwise lifestyle choices).
The truth is that we are all pretty much one step away from stupid at any given moment. All of us may need someone to speak truth into our lives so we can stop, confess and turn back to God. Now there is a spiritual and godly way to do, which means there are definitely some unspiritual and unhelpful ways to do so.
I believe there are at least four wrong (unspiritual) ways to confront our friends and loved ones when they are making unhealthy, ungodly decisions. The first way is to “Go Silent.” This means that a person says nothing. She chooses to ignore the poor decisions and choices of her friends by thinking it is none of her business. “Who am I to judge someone?” she thinks as her friend allows their life, marriage, finances, etc. to go to pot. There are times when saying nothing and going silent is wrong.
Secondly, a person can “Go Anonymous.” This is when a person wants to get his point across, but does not have the courage to face the other person directly. So he decides to send an anonymous letter confronting the person and telling this person all they have dong wrong. It is pretty hard to feel love and care from an anonymous source. The New Testament does not speak of anonymous restoration. The implication is the person shares personally with his friend the concerns he has for the other’s actions. Anonymous communication does not allow the other person to respond and receive the support they made need to change.
The Third unspiritual way to confront and restore is to “Go Around” the other person. This involves a person talking to everyone else who is not involved in the situation instead of talking to her friend that is actually struggling. Sometimes, a person may want to talk someone else into getting involved and confronting the person. This involves placing the burden of restoration on another third party instead of acting upon the burden herself. It is wrong to seek to talk someone else into having a conversation with your friend or loved one if God has laid the burden on your heart. You should not go around someone when it comes to restoration. You need to deal with them, and not a third party.
The last way is you can “Go Rambo.” This kind of confrontation is much like a full scale frontal attack. It gets the point across perhaps, but it lacks tact and grace. It often leaves the person emotionally wounded and defensive. It points out truth but gives very little room for the Holy Spirit to convict someone because it feels so unloving and uncaring. God calls his people to restore each other gently, not harshly.
Many people have been hurt by “the church” through the years because some “well meaning” brother or sister went Rambo on them. Instead of helping them turn back to God, it made their heart more bitter. That is not the purpose of seeking to confront a brother or sister in Christ. Through the years I have loved the term care-frontation. This is why you should confront — because you care. If your heart is not in a place of caring for the other and truly desiring their restoration, then you are not in a place where you need to confront.
First get your own heart right. And then you can be ready to share your heart to see your friend step out of bad decisions. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at email@example.com or 912-634-2960.