I was on a summer-long mission trip in the Middle East when Linda, one of the project directors and my summer ministry partner, approached me.
“Lori, there are a few things I’d like to talk to you about,” Linda said.
“Sure,” I said.
“Lori, you’ve been so fun to partner with on this trip. Your boldness for Christ and flexible personality are great assets to our team.”
“Thanks!” I said, feeling proud of myself.
“I have noticed a few things, though that I wanted to bring to your attention and talk about this afternoon,” Linda continued. “When we all get together at night and talk about our day, you have a habit of interrupting when someone else is talking. And often you talk about yourself and things you have done without really listening to others and asking about their lives.”
Whoa! I was not expecting that.
Linda talked with me at length over this. I was quite upset, even though everything she said was true! I later wrote in my journal and asked God to help me become more “others centered” and less “me centered.” That conversation with Linda has had a significant impact on my life and ministry. Being able to focus on others, rather than being self-consumed, has helped me be a better discipler and friend.
I am certain it was not easy for Linda to talk to me about what she’d observed. I know this from experience. When I’ve needed to confront women about issues in their lives, it’s always been hard for me. It takes a step of faith and involves risk.
Below are a few fundamental items you need to grasp before you confront a disciple or friend about an issue.
- Pray. Ask God to help you speak in a loving caring way. Pray also that God will prepare her heart to receive what you have to say.
- Face-to-Face. Don’t email or text about an issue. This conversation needs to take place during your regular discipleship time or another time where neither of you are rushed.
- Deposits Before Withdrawals. Make sure your disciple has heard and experienced your affirming words about her (deposits) before making a withdrawal through a confrontation about an issue.
- Multiple Issues. Avoid addressing multiple issues at once. As a discipler, take time to observe and determine the root issue that may be driving the others.
- Committed to Growth. Your motivation in confronting a disciple about an issue that is hindering her should be love, grace and her continued growth. Be quick to say you have her best interest in mind and that even though she may be initially hurt, you love her and are committed to her.
Years later, I saw Linda at a conference and thanked her profusely for having the guts to talk to me about my blind spots. Her talking with me that day many years ago was a gift that has helped me more than she could comprehend.
In part two, I will share some sample scripts I have used when speaking the truth in love, along with advice on when NOT to confront. If you want this information now, see chapter 8 in my book Discipling Women. You can find it at LoriJoinerMinistries.org.