Later this week I will be participating in an event where I may cross paths with my old pastor. I know he is connected with others who will be attending the event. The fact our paths may cross is really weighing on my heart.

Near the end of April I had communicated with the pastor and elders that I could not remain in silence any longer about the situation because I knew that God was calling me to step up, to share my story, and to proclaim to others about the amazing healing the Lord had done in my life. They have been unwilling to work through and resolve issues. The response I received was that I was unstable and irrational, did not understand the Gospel, again was showing I was unrepentant, and that if I spoke I would actually damage God’s kingdom.

I have continued to try to respond in love and patience to these leaders, and have offered over and over again to resolve the issues with no progress. It took until the beginning of July for those leaders and my current pastor to agree to meet. My pastor has not wanted me to meet with these leaders because he does not believe they are willing to reconcile, and he believes it would be unhealthy for me to share with them. So far, even after meeting with him, they have not shown any openness or willingness to reconcile. I also know some others that were key in my story are no longer at the church. They also have been hurt and are dealing with a difficult road of healing.

I am not sure how to respond if I see my pastor. The last face-to-face interaction I had with him was last December when he had an uncontrolled outburst and made a public scene. I do not want to cause any disruption at the event, and I have concerns that the pastor will try to speak to me. His elders told me not to speak to him, and after the run in last December I clearly defined that he was not to speak to me again without witnesses (on my side) due to his outburst. If he tries to speak to me the only thing I know to do is to calmly remind him that we are not allowed to speak, and then to involve others if he tries to communicate further.

My heart is heavy with concerns for all involved. I am walking in faith, still knowing that God is capable of healing and restoring everything if we would surrender, so he is definitely capable of taking care of much smaller pieces of this, such as this even.  I am going to the event with a very open and hope-filled heart, trusting that the Lord will use it mightily to change things, and believing that He can be glorified in all situations.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

I love this post from Sarah Cunningham, Oh Yeah, Well, I’m Going To Scream About How Great You Are.

I am thinking about how this would impact the American Church if we treat others this way instead of with the Elder Brother Disease. I think I want to move to Africa!

Have you ever experienced confrontation? Have you ever been the person needing to confront?

Either way you probably know that confrontation is not easy. Too often our agendas, emotions, and frustrations can come into the situation and take things to the wrong place. We may have a legitimate reason to confront such as a friend broke an item they borrowed, a spouse did not follow through on something, a child was disrespectful, or someone we know is in sin. The heart and goal of confrontation needs to be about love, being an ambassador for Christ, and should be done in the context of relationship, not just because we are an authority in their life, or they are an authority in our life.

Paul David Tripp wrote a great chapter on confrontation in War of Words. In it he defines several things to keep in  mind regarding the agenda for having a conversation with someone that is confrontational.

  1. Confrontation often confuses personal irritation and anger with biblical perspectives and purposes
  2. Poor data gathering can lead to incorrect assumptions about the facts, which derails confrontation
  3. Confrontation is often marred by a judgment of motives
  4. Inflammatory language, condemning words, and emotional tones often stain confrontation
  5. Confrontations are often adversarial rather than moments of loving concern for the person who needs your rebuke
  6. In confrontation, Scripture is often used more as a club than as a mirror of self-awareness and a guide to change
  7. Confrontation often confuses human expectations with God’s will
  8. Confrontation often takes place in the context of a broken relationship
  9. Confrontation often demands that change be an immediate event rather than a process

He continues on and gives a Biblical model for how a confrontational conversation could be handled by using an acronym for ENCOURAGE

E = Examine your heart
N = Note your calling
C = Check your attitude
O = Own your own faults
U = Use words wisely
R = Reflect on Scripture
A = Always be prepared to listen
G = Grant time for a response
E = Encourage the person with the gospel

Next time you have to be a part of a difficult conversation where you are giving or receiving confrontation in some way think of this acronym and see if you can make some adjustments that might make the conversation go a little more smoothly