Do you like confronting others?
I certainly don’t. As a recovering people-pleaser and person who has worked hard to overcome an addiction to others’ approval, I have struggled to confront people or initiate hard conversations with the people in my life. My tactics most of the time have included avoiding the situation or the difficult person.
However, God showed me as I have walked through some healing the past few years that my avoidance tactics were not doing good things for my emotional health. I was internalizing negative emotions that needed to come out. There were times that I needed to express my needs or set up boundaries with another person or call them out on a wrong action — and I was silent. This created resentment in me over time and also depression because as Joyce Meyer says, “Feelings buried alive never die.”
I was operating out of the wrong idea that Christians have to be nice all the time. “Nice” meant that I couldn’t upset someone or create conflict with another person because if I did, and they didn’t like it, I felt guilty and took the blame on myself for their angry reaction. However, that was a wrong mentality. Jesus had conflicts with people all the time and often said things that made people very upset (to the point that they wanted to kill Him). However, He lived a perfect life and never sinned.
Why Am I so Afraid to Confront People?
My hesitancy to confront others has been a symptom of my people-pleasing disease. At the root of my approval-seeking is a fear of rejection. The disapproval of others is something I avoid because I avoid rejection at all costs. However, never initiating a hard conversation or confronting someone about an action is not a realistic or healthy way to live.
Conflict is inevitable and even necessary with those around us and closest to us. I have since learned that we should focus on handling conflict and confrontation correctly, rather than attempt to avoid it.
That, yes, God does not want us to allow others to simply do as they please around us. However, whenever we have to talk with someone or call them out on a behavior, we should do so with the right motives and do so in love.
When should we confront? I believe that the Holy Spirit will help us in our relationships, but there are several scenarios that may cause us to have to go to an individual and confront them. According to the Bible, here are a few:
1. When someone wrongs us.
When someone sins against us, and we are hurt by their actions, it is necessary in some cases to go to the person and let them know they hurt us. Yes, there are some instances where we should overlook an insult, but there are other instances where it is imperative that we let the person know that they hurt us. Obviously, you will need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in regards to this, but the Bible is clear that if someone offends or wrongs us, we need to take a direct approach and address it with the person (not run around behind the person’s back and tell everyone how much his or her actions upset us).
2. When we see a fellow Christian in sin.
Again, you will need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in this area, but there are times when we will need to speak to another Christian about a sin issue in their life. We need to carefully check our motives before doing this and make sure we are not approaching the person from a posture of pride, but the Bible says we have a responsibility to help restore another believer back into right choices.
Our motive in these cases should always be restoration rather than condemnation, and we have a responsibility to approach the individual with humility and grace — rather than accusation. However, rather than stand by in silence, we need to speak up and point out the sin and what it says in the Bible concerning it.
They may get angry when we approach them or refuse to stop what they are doing. The Bible says if we are confronting sin and the person isn’t won over by our words that we should take a few others with us to try again — depending on what the situation is. Our responsibility is to make the attempt and talk with them whether they decide to make a change or not. (Note, this process is for fellow believers within the church, not unbelievers.)
3. When we need to set a boundary in a relationship.
I think of “confront” as only meaning to point out a wrong to someone; however, “confront” can also mean “to deal with (something) in a direct and honest way” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Perhaps we have a dominating friend who always talks over us. Perhaps we have a spouse who never asks for our input in financial situations. Perhaps we are under the leadership of someone who doesn’t communicate expectations clearly.
The confrontation may be us starting a conversation with the other person about our needs in the situation or how the person’s actions (even if they aren’t necessarily sinful) make us feel. Maybe we find the idea of broaching the subject scary because we don’t know how the other person will respond, and we are afraid that we will lose their approval.
We don’t have to convince the other person of our view. They may not want to turn away from their action or agree with us. However, bringing up the conversation is freeing for us. We aren’t bottling up our emotions inside or denying our needs in a situation.
Confrontation Helps Us Maintain Healthy Relationships
Confrontation is difficult and something most of us don’t enjoy doing. However, confrontation helps us set boundaries in our relationships by making it known to the people around us what our needs and feelings are — and if they have crossed the line or hurt us.
Confrontation is also a biblical mandate. Being part of a community of believers means also helping one another to live in a way we’re supposed to. This means helping one another when we stumble — but also accepting help and letting ourselves be held accountable by others.
Although not easy or comfortable, confrontation is a key step in overcoming our own people-pleasing tendencies and not allowing fear of others or our desire to make others like us stand in the way of what God would have us do. (Or stand in the way of our relationship with Him.)
Related Bible Verses:
Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
Ephesians 4:15: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Are you afraid to speak your needs or say no to the people in your life? To join in for a discussion on confrontation, subscribe to our free video chat this Monday, July 18, @ 9, or leave a comment below.