Handled correctly, confrontation can lead to restoration and newfound maturity. Handled incorrectly, and, well, let’s just say it can get very ugly!
I just heard the story of a pastor who felt like he needed to confront one of his board members. I don’t really know this pastor, nor do I know the board member; I don’t know what was said in their meeting, but I have heard about the outcome, and it got ugly.
Samuel was going to be sent by God to confront King Saul about the sin he had committed. Look at this passage:
Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. (1 Samuel 15:10-11)
Did you catch how Samuel responded? He cried out to the Lord all that night.
Perhaps if we, as pastors, cried before we confronted the results might be more healthy.
“Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength.” —Billy Graham
Nehemiah was another pastoral/prophetic figure that was going to confront the inhabitants of Jerusalem about their sin.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: …I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. (Nehemiah 1:4-6)
Before Nehemiah confronted the sins of the people, he tearfully took a hard look at himself, and then asked for forgiveness. Jesus shared this same concept with these words:
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
So before you confront your brother or sister, let the Holy Spirit confront you. Then, if it’s needed, confess your sin and ask God’s forgiveness. Let the Holy Spirit remove things in your life so that you can see clearly how to lovingly confront your brother.
Cry before you confront. Cry over your sin. Cry over the sinful state of your brother or sister. Plead with the Lord for this time of confrontation to lead to restoration and maturity.