So I recognize my own sin and my own need of repentance and come to my friend who I love and care for and want the best for. I come with my Bible open and, in prayerful dependence on the grace of God, say with all of the love and tact that I can, “I see some things in your life that need correction or repentance or change of some kind.” It isn’t motivated primarily by being right or making them feel bad, but to bring about the change that will lead to their godliness or healing or good.
Then Pastor Josh walked us through a practical process for conflict resolution.
First, make sure the issues are stated tactfully, clearly, and directly. Don’t beat around the bush or imply or hint. Say it very clearly and directly and as well as you can. This will almost never happen publicly. If it’s a sinful action or a wrong way of thinking or speaking or a recurring failure, whatever, make sure the issue is stated clearly, tactfully, and directly.
Second, examples are given. Accurately, not exaggerated. Preferrably without a whole lot of emotion. This is for the purpose of proving that the issue is an issue. These are evidences of a need for change or repentance. By the way, it can be helpful to use illustrations of the same issue outside of the specific situation so the person can see and feel a bit more objectively about their own issue. The Prophet Nathan did that with King David. And Jesus tells stories like that for the same purpose.
Third, a plan of action is suggested. Here are deeds fitting with repentance. If your hearts agrees that sin is present and a change is needed, then determine some specific things you could expect to see start to happen. Be as specific as possible.
Then, and most importantly, Pastor Josh talked about the internal values we must hold onto in the midst of conflict resolution.
Here they are in no order:
First, a deep recognition of my own sin. We confess that we need grace as much as the person we confront does. When confronted we shouldn’t be surprised. I’m a sinner. When my friend shows me that, this isn’t unexpected. So there’s the posture of mutual friends, mutual sinners, fighting together to overcome our sin because we love God and we love one another.
Second, apply the changes to the heart. This isn’t just behavior modification we’re after. While there should be external evidences of change, true repentance is God bringing about heart change that leads to life change. Paul Tripp writes: The goal of confrontation is that through the things that I say (the message), and the way that I say them (the method), and the attitudes that I express (character) God will change the other persons heart.
Third, make this a lifestyle not an event. If confrontation becomes rare, then it will lack understanding and bring about dread. And if it’s rare we’ll only do it when a situation is really bad. But if confrontation is ongoing and regular and normative in the relationship then, not only does it become easier and more skillful, but it deals with issues quickly before they become bigger. Assume two things that will help hopefully to make confrontation normative. One, you don’t see your sin, and two, people don’t naturally want to tell you about it. This means creating a culture of invitation. Invite close friends to evaluate and speak into your life.Finally, don’t forget or assume the gospel. The gospel recognizes that God already knows and loves me and forgives me. God accepts me and sees me as righteous in Christ. With that foundation, I don’t need to fear what anyone thinks or be afraid to confess my sins. Also the gospel is the good news that power is available to win over the sin. The gospel removes the guilt of sin and removes the power of sin.