Confronting People The Right Way

There was a meeting at church. Suddenly one woman spoke up aggressively. She was complaining about someone who evidently was in the worship band at one of the services.

She was upset about the person’s lifestyle. “He’s living in sin, and he knows it. And he needs to stop, or else stop coming here. And he’s even on the platform.”

She had confronted the person, but he did not change.

I was thinking about confrontations such as this over the weekend. Must have been a book I’ve been reading. But the story of this meeting returned. In full color. In my mind. With the harsh judgementalism.

And I wondered, just how did that confrontation go? I’m guessing it was not done in a gently and loving manner. Given that the meeting was some time after the confrontation, I’m also guessing that the confrontation had no effect.

People do need to be confronted at times. Addicts need someone to stop enabling them and tell them no and tell them where an AA meeting is. At a smaller scale, someone you know is about to make a bad decision. Giving your point of view can be helpful.

But there are ways to do it. 

The judgemental, angry, finger-in-the-face “you’re going to hell” confrontation will seldom have a desired effect.

I’ve found on the soccer pitch that watching my tone of voice as a referee helps immensely. When I lose my cool and shout something stupid, guess what, I don’t obtain a desired change from the person.

Saturday, I had a high school boy get too aggressive on a foul. I called the foul, checked the fouled player quickly for injury, then made a public, but quiet, gesture and word to the player. He nodded. He understood that I was trying to help him curb his aggressiveness a little so he could stay in the game.

It’s all in the approach. When to be gentle, when to be tough, when to be a little of both.

But I’ve never found the in-your-face method beneficial.

Works the same for evangelism.

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