Proverbs 27:5-6a Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
One of my classes at Wheaton Grad School dealt with resolving conflicts. We each had to take a test that measured our view of confrontation. Among the students in the class were pastors, missionaries, teachers and workers in Christian organizations. We were all a bit surprised when we discovered that we all wanted to avoid confrontation like the plague!
‘Confrontation’ is one of those words like ‘commands’, ‘obey’, ‘obedience’, ‘submission’ that we seem to have an allergic reaction to instead of seeing it as vital to healthy Christian living. We tend to think of explosive, angry, unpleasant interactions that make the problems worse.
Rather, it’s important to recognize that facing up to problems, issues or people is essential – and to do so in love is a requirement of scripture. It is a multifaceted redemptive skill that we must learn. Key to confronting situations is learning how to do it, when to do it and if in fact it needs to be done.
Years ago my dad belonged to a men’s Bible study. One day he commented that he was going to quit attending it – that most of the men had already quit coming. I asked him why. He said, “Wally just won’t quit talking and dominates everything.” I suggested that he talk to Wally and tell him about this problem he has – that his non-stop talking is driving the men away. Dad said, “I couldn’t do that. None of us want to hurt Wally’s feelings.” The men thought it better for the Bible study to die than to confront a brother with a blind spot who probably didn’t realize what he was doing.
If we are doing something wrong or something that is causing a problem, wouldn’t we want to know about it? Wouldn’t we want a co-worker, a friend, or a loved one to take us aside and in kindness inform us of it? If we were Wally, wouldn’t we want to know before we were sitting all by ourselves?
The Golden Rule is such a simple yet profound learning tool – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When it comes to speaking to someone about a problem (think family, kids, spouse, parents, co-workers, friends), we are to do it in a way that we would like it done to us if the roles were reversed.