Confrontation is uncomfortable, but it is an important element of leadership, that if handled correctly, can lead to growth and fruitfulness for everyone involved. Confrontation is not a woman’s default mode, so when problems arise, we often opt to avoid the challenge. Confrontation is an effective tool that God uses to develop Christ-like character in us. Ken Sande, the author of “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict comments:
“Ron Kraybill, a respected Christian mediator, has noted that “effective confrontation is like a graceful dance from supportiveness to assertiveness and back again.” This dance may feel awkward at first for those who are just learning it, but perseverance pays off. With God’s help you can learn to speak the truth in love by saying only what will build others up, by listening responsibly to what others say, and by using principles of wisdom.”
In my counseling ministry to women, I have discovered that “a lack of confrontation” only creates more problems. It is easier in ministry to talk “about” someone, than to talk “to” them. Instead of going directly to the person we are having issues with, we end up gossiping and justifying our own position to others. When this happens, the Holy Spirit is grieved by our evil speaking (Ephesians 4:29-31) and we invite the enemy into the situation.
The Bible has not left us without instruction in handling confrontation. What constitutes the need to confront?
Matthew 18:15 makes it clear:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”
It is important to assume the best of our sister in Christ, before assuming the worst. After prayerfully considering a situation, we can act upon Matthew 18 by speaking the truth in love with grace.
I have found that if the first step of Matthew 18 is obeyed, conflict is easily solved. If we are afraid to confront and remain silent, the situation worsens.
Confrontation is also necessary in bringing accountability to the teams we lead. The heart of a good shepherd is to care for the health of the sheep. We have a responsibility as leaders to take note of a hard heart or a bad attitude, or refocus a woman who appears to be striving in her own ability. To overlook these matters is “unloving” and without proper care, these issues can create chaos in our ministries and result in hurting other sheep.
So how do we confront…carefully! Here are some things that have helped me to effectively confront other women over the years.
Focus on Restoration. Confrontation is not selfish. We are not confronting in order to get something off our chest. We are “esteeming the other person better than ourselves and looking out for their best interest (Philippians 2:3-4).” The goal is restoring a right and healthy relationship.
Schedule a Private Confrontation. Never embarrass or address an issue in front of others. Schedule an uninterrupted time to talk. Matthew 18 is specific – this matter is just between the two of you.
Communicate with love and grace. Pray before beginning your conversation. Preface your conversation by addressing your love and concern. Be a good listener and don’t interrupt. Accept responsibility for the part you may have played in the misunderstanding. Admit your sin and ask for forgiveness.
Unresolved Conflict. If a person is unwilling to resolve the matter, bring in a couple other women who love this woman like you do. If you continue to experience rejection, address the issue with your leadership.
Also, if you have a woman come to you with an issue about another believer, be sure to direct her to a one on one confrontation with the person she is concerned about. Help her identify the proper way to confront. Don’t take sides or discuss the situation until she has first confronted the other woman. This is an important moment of discipleship for you and her.
Believers should be able to handle any conflict that arises by biblically confronting the situation. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God work together to bring about peace and reconciliation in our relationships. As leaders in ministry, all of our relationships should remain healthy and vibrant as we partner together to advance the kingdom.