In short, I’m not a fan of conflict. I actually don’t know any sane person who is. Regardless of my discomfort, conflict remains a part of relationship in a fallen world.
If you’re going to relate with someone, a time will come when you have to confront them about something. It may be something they said or did that hurt you. It may be a blind spot in their lives that is a problem. The context will change, but the inevitability of conflict will not.
Confronting someone is not easy and should not be taken lightly. It can easily go south if not taken seriously and prepared for properly.
One redeeming factor in my discomfort with confrontation is that I’ve developed a process for confrontation that I’ve found helpful. If you have one of these uncomfortable but important conversations in your future, here’s how I have a confrontational conversation.
1. Pray thoroughly.
Pray that God would prepare the person on the other end, but more importantly, pray that God prepares you.
Prayer prepares the heart, mind and mouth for the difficulty involved in confrontation. The Holy Spirit uses prayer to reveal our sin, call us to repentance and refine our motives.
Sometimes when I think confrontation is necessary, prayer reveals that it’s not. Sometimes the person in need of being confronted is me.
Prayer helps me offload my worry onto the Lord. Prayer reminds me that my identity is not bound up in what others think of me, but what God thinks.
Do not ever, ever, ever, ever … wait for it … EVER confront someone without praying through the issue and for the person thoroughly.
2. Plan carefully.
I don’t ever “wing” a confrontational conversation. While you can’t plan for every possible contingency, you should carefully plan out what you need to say. I’d encourage you to actually write it down and take it into the conversation with you—at least some bullet points.