Contemplate for a moment the word “confrontation.” Undoubtedly, it naturally produces a negative connotation. Confrontation is something that most people do not like and will, at all cost, try to avoid. Let’s examine for a moment what this word essentially means. The word confrontation and its root word confront have several different meanings.
- To oppose or challenge
- To oppose the actions or authority of someone
- To deal with something in an honest or direct way
- A face to face meeting
- The clashing of forces of ideas
Anytime you are dealing with people, inevitably you will have confrontation. It is unavoidable. As previously stated, some people try to avoid confrontation at all cost. This is not always healthy. Positive confrontation can be a valuable and essential tool in learning to work with different types of people. Let’s examine two different types of confrontation: Positive and negative.
The Benefits of Positive Confrontation
How can confrontation be positive?
- Postitive Confrontation is Proactive.
This might seem elementary, but when leading a group of people, you want to know the people that you are leading. It is important to be sensitive to their needs and spiritual temperature. You might have someone in your department that has been down lately and seems like they are struggling spiritually. A positive confrontation from you might be what they need. A simple face-to-face or phone conversation where you say, “I really love you and I’m worried about you. Is there anything that I can do to help?” This can help encourage and strengthen your department. Your struggling group member might open up to you and ask you to pray with them and help them.
- Positive Confrontation Can Calm a Potentially Volatile Situation.
As a leader, you are tuned into the heartbeat of your group. We’ve all had situations arise. Sometimes we seen them coming a mile away. We dread them. We hope they go away. However, a positive confrontation can help avoid a negative blow-up before it even happens. When you spot an unavoidable confrontation headed your way, go ahead and pray about it and address it directly before it gets out of control.
- Positive Confrontation Can Easily Clear Up Misunderstandings.
Many times offenses happen because of a simple lack of communication. We often assume that we know what the other person is thinking or feeling, but we may not. If you feel like someone was offended by something you said or did, go to them and talk with them about it. Or, on the other hand, if you felt offended by an incident go and speak with the person about it. Many times the issues we imagine in our minds really aren’t issues at all. Humble, positive communication can clear up many misunderstandings.
- Positive Confrontation can leave people feeling encouraged and motivated.
Confrontation is negative if the parties involved walk away feeling hurt, angry and frustrated. However, in positive confrontation, expectations and needs can be made clear and parties can walk away with a stronger relationship, as well as a renewed sense of purpose.
HOW TO HANDLE NEGATIVE CONFRONTATION
The moment every leader dreads: You are at church and all of the sudden someone catches you and demands to speak with you immediately. You can tell they are angry and you are fixing to “get it”. What can you do in those kind of situations? When a situation is negative, as leader you need to calmly take control of the situation. You cannot allow your emotions to allow you to lose control. Here’s a few way to help you do accomplish this:
- Set the Tone.
When someone attacks us or the ministry in general, it is natural to automatically feel defensive. However, reacting with our first instincts will not alleviate the situation and will probably make it worse. Take a breath and respond kindly and firmly.
- Determine the Time and Place.
If someone is demanding to speak with you before or after church, these are not always good times. Before service is an important time where you are trying to concentrate on the upcoming service and focusing on having the mind of God. After service you have just given everything you have to that service and it is probably not a good time to discuss a volatile situation. In addition, after a good service, don’t taint the positives that God has done in the service, by having to discuss something potentially negative. Tell the person that you would love to speak with them, but that now is not a good time. If you have the ability, encourage church members to set up appointments if they need to speak with you about important matters. Let them know that setting up a meeting with them will allow you to give them your full attention. Having to have your time consumed before and after church when you are preparing to minister, or after you have ministered, may not be the best practice and should be avoided if at all possible.
- Delay Gives You and the Other Party Time.
It is said that time heals everything. In a negative situation, time can be a good thing. You may not make the best decisions if you are rushed into making one. Time allows the emotions of both yourself and the other party involved to calm. Time allows you to pray and seek God about the situation and to be sensitive to what He would have you to do.
- The Meeting
- Start Off With Prayer.
A great way to start off a meeting with someone is with prayer. We should never rely on our own wisdom. We can only accomplish so much with natural wisdom. With God’s wisdom, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we can accomplish so much more. Be sure to pray out load and sincerely thank God for that person and for your time together. Prayer sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.
- Listen With a “Third Ear”.
Really listen to what that person is saying to you. Be sensitive to God’s spirit as you are listening. What is seemingly a simple issue on the surface may actually be a symptom of an underlying issue. The person may be struggling with discouragement or may be having a spiritual issue. This is a time that you can really be sensitive to what is going on in that person’s life. Show that you understand what they are saying and affirm them with statements like “so you feel like…”, so they know you are listening. Rephrasing what they are telling you as a question can help make sure that you understand what they are telling you.
- Be Slow To Speak.
Don’t be hasty in your response. Think about the scriptures you read in preparation for the meeting and allow God to speak through His Word. Do not use scriptures as a weapon to prove your point, but rather to encourage and find a solution to the situation.
- Show Honor.
In a confrontational situation sometimes we may find it hard to find anything good to say about the person. However, find a way to show honor to that person. Thank them for their service to the Lord and to the church and acknowledge good qualities about them.
- Apologize When Necessary.
Although seemingly unfair, ministry often requires that we take the “high road.” An apology is a powerful tool. Pride keeps people from apologizing. Even if you felt like you were not wrong in the situation an apology can be appropriate. An apology can be saying you are sorry for the persons pain or that you are sorry the situation happened. Many times feeling are hurt and offenses occur unintentionally. Apologize and mean it.
- Work together toward a solution.
Set goals for the future. Find a solution that works for both of you. Let the person know that you value them and want to continue to work together. Remember that your effectiveness as a leader will many times come down to your reputation. Being humble and sincere in the face of adversity will prove best for both parties involved.
Confrontation is not easy; nor should it be. However, through confrontation we can develop and grown in our ministries. Make a plan in advance for when negative confrontation arises. Some people may have a valid reason to be upset and others may just be critical. It is not pleasant to hear criticism about ourselves or perhaps about our department or program, etc. However learn from the criticism and move on from it. Do not allow a negative situation to fester in your heart and damage your relationship with the person. Even if you are in a situation where you have to correct someone, you can do it in such a way that they feel appreciated and motivated to improve in the future. In any confrontation you want the person to leave encouraged, not frustrated and angry. Confrontation will happen, but using Godly wisdom can help avoid negative outcomes and promote positive growth for the future.
Special Thanks to Josh Siddons of Apostolic Tabernacle Wilmington for helping me write this article.
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