Recently, I preached on gossip. The 2-part sermon series can be found here and here. One of the issues that arose was How do you approach someone about an issue without appearing judgmental? Recently, I also had a conversation with someone (actually I was present during a conversation that my wise wife* was having) who was talking about confronting someone with a character issue.
* It always bothered me that people always introduce their wives in public forums as 'beautiful wife'. It bothered me for a couple of reasons. Is she that insecure that she needs public displays of compliments? Are we that unobservant as an audience that we wouldn't have noticed until you mentioned it? But the real reason that it bothered me is because it reinforces the subtle and sinister stereotype that a woman's worth is only wrapped up in her beauty. (I was this close to blogging on the obsession with Princess Kate). I know, I'm strange, but this is how I think.
Her concern, and really the concern of most people in these situations, was Is this really the loving thing to do? What if they don't receive it well? Will it do more harm than help? Again, my sage spouse (who also happens to be ravishingly beautiful... =D) brought up most of the good points. I only added one thing that I wanted to share with my you, my
You have to think of a confrontation as a transaction. It is a transfer of funds. But the currency isn't bills or coins, but love and acceptance. Basically, when you have to speak truth into someone's life, you are cashing in whatever love and acceptance that you have build up with that person previously. And if you have enough currency, then they will receive what you have to say.
But, if you don't have enough currency with them, if they haven't felt enough love and acceptance built up in the relationship, then they will probably reject what you have to say, regardless of its truth. So, one of the implications of this is that we should be conscious of the currency we are building up with people. Because if you don't invest in a relationship and wait until you need to confront someone, it's already too late. Very rarely will that conversation end up in a good place. "Who are you to tell me that?" "You don't even know me..."
When confrontations occur, so much of the focus is on what is said and how it's stated. And rightfully so. But don't forget about the currency of the relationship.