Apr 25, 2021 08:00am
How to Have a Loving Confrontation

In an interview with the senior leader of a mega-church who planted the congregation then pastored it, he was asked what was different about today and when the church began thirty years ago.  He stated that when they started, if someone had an issue with you, they would come into your office, sit down, look you in the eye, and discuss the disagreement with you face to face.  Today you find out about it through social media.  

The times certainly have changed and in this particular area, not for the better.  Technology has given the opportunity for people to hide behind a screen and attack anyone and anything they choose.  

Some have taken the statement “touch not God’s anointed” out of context to mean that you should never confront God’s leaders.  You are not to confront error or even question less-than-scriptural practices.  Others have forgotten that there is a biblical way to approach elders and 1 Timothy 5 clearly states how to do that.  Everyone needs accountability and let me say that again – everyone.  Accountability does not guarantee there will never be challenges or problems, but no accountability pretty much guarantees there will be.  

So biblical confrontation is important and necessary, but most importantly it must be motivated by love.

Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”  His response was basically, “Well actually there are two!”  He tells us to love God and to love others.  He does not divide the two nor does God make provision for a dichotomy between them.  Jesus makes it clear that if you truly love God, you will love others also. Yet we no longer measure our love for God by how well we love others.  

There is no wiggle room in this because scripturally the core metric of true spiritual maturity is how well you love. How well do you love God and how well do you love others?  Why is such a shallow love allowed to go unchallenged?

No matter how many Bible verses you have memorized or how well you can teach the scriptures, if you do not demonstrate love, it is all “a tinkling cymbal” and is nothing.  In Until Unity Francis Chan says, “We need to stop thinking that our primary duty toward our fellow believers is to critique them. It’s not! Our primary duty is to love them.”  

This is not a call to sweep error under the rug or to look the other way when it comes to truth, but it is a plea for us to practice the same grace you desire for others to show you.  If you don’t really love people deeply, it could be that you have never experienced the love of Christ deeply.

Hold on, though, because Jesus goes totally radical in Matthew 5:43-45 taking love to another level.  He states that what really sets a believer apart as spiritually mature is not only loving God and loving others but also the ability to love your enemies.  

It has been well said that outrage is not a strategy.  Are you willing to hold to the biblical expectation of not only loving one another but also loving those you think are your enemies?  Are you willing to show them respect and have enough integrity to confront them face to face if at all possible?  The biblical example is that you are to speak the truth in love.

Do not be quick to criticize but rather be quick to encourage those you may disagree with.  Always confront in private when possible and handle the conflict at the lowest level possible.  Do not stir things up just to stir them up. Remember how patient others were with you and be willing to give the benefit of the doubt. John Maxwell has developed the Ten Commandments of Confrontation where number six says, “Thou shalt avoid sarcasm (especially in an email or text).” Good advice and he states the importance of treating the person the way you would want to be treated. 

Dr. Henry Cloud reminds us to “prayerfully examine your confrontation. Discern if it is a time to confront or a time to let it go. Is it an issue of preference or an issue of commandment? Choose your battles wisely (Proverbs 19:11).”  Interesting that he and Maxwell both stress the importance of avoiding sarcasm and the use of absolute words like “always” and “never.”   Dr. Cloud states, “Confrontation can be a positive situation, a chance to help and show you care for others. If you do it with respect and with the other person’s best interests at heart, it can be an opportunity for growth.”

Dr. Cloud continues, “Be patient and stay in control of your emotions (Proverbs 15:1).  Give the person a clear game plan to fix the problem. Do what you can to help them. If necessary be willing to seek input and assistance from others as appropriate.  Finally, above all seek to confront as Jesus would. Pray and ask the Lord to accompany you and give you the words to speak.”  Romans 13:8 says, “Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

            Make sure you follow the biblical example of Matthew 18:15-16 and then check out these resources on thinking through how you will lovingly confront:  

Care Enough to Confront: Step by Step Guide to Positive Confrontation (Dr. Henry Cloud) 

The Ten Commandments of Confrontation (John Maxwell blog)

Copyright © 2021 by Larry Barker @ No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from