Confront in Truth, Affirm in Love
“A word of encouragement does wonders!” (Proverbs 12:25 TLB).
If someone came to you today and said, “Let’s go have some coffee; I want to point out all the areas in your life that need changing,” you probably wouldn’t be thrilled to have that conversation. You might think, “Who do you think you are?” You might become resentful, rebellious, and resistant.
Here’s a better strategy. When you have a speak-the-truth-in-love session with somebody, begin and end on a positive note, and affirm these things:
- You love and care for that person.
- You will pray for and help that person.
- You believe that person can change.
Paul did this in 1 and 2 Corinthians by beginning and ending with affirmation. For example, Paul starts one letter by saying, “I always thank God for you,” and ends with, “My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.” Between that he’s dealing with some very tough truths while also giving affirmation in the middle: “I have great confidence in you, and I have a lot of reasons to be proud of you” (2 Corinthians 7:4 GW).
Notice that Paul used the word “and.” Never use the word “but” in a confrontation. The moment you do, whatever you say before or after will be totally ignored and invalidated: “I think you’re a great person, but . . .” “We’ve been friends a long time, but . . .” Instead, use the word “and”: “You’re a great person, and I believe you can be even better.” “We’ve got a great relationship, and I believe there are some things we need to work on.” That’s what it means to affirm someone.
Talk It Over
What are some practical ways you can plan what you’re going to say when you confront someone?
How has someone used affirmation when correcting you in the past? How did it make you feel?
Why does the truth sometimes hurt?
This devotional © 2019 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.