Sunday, August 14, 2011

Touching Base! Part 137

Gentleness - When You Need to Listen to "Hard Things"

Guest posting by Fred Grendel

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

On Sunday, my Big Idea was “We need to go vertical with God, before going horizontal with each other.” The key verse was Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Now in this Touching Base I’d like to expand on something I didn’t really have time to cover much on Sunday.

Many of us have been there - we sense there is tension between us and a friend, or us and another team member… and then they ask us to go for coffee. We show up at the Starbucks or Tim Horton’s of their choice, nervously order something to drink, and then it happens… before you get a chance to enjoy your cup of coffee, you realize that the person with you is about to say hard things to you: you are going to get rebuked.

In this case the person talking to you thinks that you need to be restored. In the moment, you can pray silently but you really don’t have an opportunity to get totally vertical with God in prayer, so what do you do? Personally, I can be very stubborn, hard-headed and driven as a leader, so this has happened to me several times and this is what the Lord has taught me to do when confronted by another believer:

  • Understand that gentleness has everything to do with humility. In the moment when you are being confronted, silently submit your will to God’s and ask him for strength (Ps. 25:19)
  • Actively listen. Don’t think about your response yet, just sit and listen (Prov. 5:7)
  • Ask clarifying questions, like, “What did you mean by that?” or “Can you give me an example of when this happened?”
  • Test what the person is saying with scripture. Don’t be afraid of silence during the conversation and when there is silence take time to see if what they are rebuking you for lines up with God’s word (1 John 1:4)
It’s okay to tell the person you need to get back to them on the matter. Give them a time or a place in which you will meet again (now you have a chance to get vertical in prayer with your Heavenly Father! (Ps. 86:6))

However, if you’re ready to respond to the rebuke and need to defend yourself, be careful of your tones and do so in gentleness as well (Gal 6:1).

If the person is right, confess your sin to them and admit that you have been wrong, asking for their forgiveness. If you need their help in battling the sin, ask. (James 5:16)

When it appears that the conversation is drawing to a close:

  • Ask the person if there is more. Now the last thing you will want to hear at this moment is “more” rebuke! Remember, however, that it took courage for your brother or sister in Christ to pull you aside, and they may have gotten through the “meat of the matter” and are losing strength to get into more minor details of your behavior which may be important.
  • If you’re thankful for the conversation tell them so (1 Thess. 5:18).
  • Ask the person if you can follow up with them even if all issues have been resolved. Sometimes we need accountability.
But what if things head south? One time when I was being confronted, I was clearly in the wrong. I had hurt the person so badly, and they were so unprepared for the conversation that part-way through it as I began to defend myself on a few matters, they got increasingly upset, and I actually felt threatened. In fact, I feared they were going to punch me in the face! In these situations:

  • Tell the person you feel uncomfortable and you need to leave
  • Do just that! Remove yourself from the place and situation before it gets worse!
  • Take the situation to what I call “stage 2” of Matthew 18. The next time you meet, bring some witnesses with you. Even though you may need to hear what they have to say, the other person clearly needs more help and you need the protection of some other Christ-followers. (Matt 18:15-17)
Have a great week, and if you find yourself in a situation where someone is saying “hard things” to you, remember that you are not alone. Thousands of Christ-followers including myself have been rebuked and restored.


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