Let's Talk...Or Not

How do we handle confrontation in a small group?

by Cindy Scott on April 18, 2019

Curious Confrontation

There’s a big problem happening in some places of society today where crazy things are happening, and they are not being addressed. Full-on, dangerous issues are being ignored. Some people don’t feel comfortable talking to others about anything remotely controversial. On the other hand, some people can’t seem to help themselves, and everyone around them knows where they stand on just about everything.

Here’s how it normally goes down. A thing occurs, and there is a disturbance in the force. We struggle inside on whether we should say something or not. Often, we resort to one of two things: overreact and create more problems or rationalize, decide it’s not our problem and withdraw.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us “for everything there is a season… a time to be quiet and a time to speak.” So how do you know when to be quiet and when to speak?

The Bible gives direction on both sides. James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sister: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” And then Galatians 6:1 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.”

And then Galatians 6:1 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.”

Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

When considering what to do with that angsty feeling, first you should discern whether or not you should say something. We tend to respond in the way we are wired. However, true inquiry requires true curiosity. As you think about how best to inquire, it’s helpful to take a look at the Communication Pendulum. Keep in mind that the outsides of the pendulum are never healthy. At this point, we are just deciding where we should be on the inside of the pendulum.

On the right outside of the pendulum is “I never address issues” and the opposite outside of the pendulum on the left is, “I always call issues out.” Inside the pendulum closest to “I never address” is the healthy covering of a situation. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” God does this with us all the time. The Bible's definition of love starts with “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13). God does not share the transformations we need all at once, but at the right time, he reveals what we need to focus on.

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” God does this with us all the time. The Bible's definition of love starts with “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13). God does not share the transformations we need all at once, but at the right time, he reveals what we need to focus on.

Healthy confrontation is on the other side and the other option to be discerned. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” It goes along with the concept that iron sharpens iron and we need to be there for each other to mirror what people are seeing.

 

So What Should We Do?

If you feel God is asking you to confront in love your job is to:

Pray and wait – you may need to ask God again at another time if you should confront

Release and trust – allow the Holy Spirit to work in their life on their behalf

Guard your heart - you’ve got your own issues, too, and don’t want to give room to pride and judgment.

If you feel God is asking you to move forward in curious confrontation, you need to do so in a healthy way.

Here’s a pathway developed from combining ideas from the books "Crucial Conversations" and "Fierce Conversations."

Both books advise deciding in advance what you are going to say and practicing it until you can get it under 60 seconds. If it goes longer than that, the other person has a reaction where the Amygdala portion of their brain swells as the body prepares for a fight or a flight and sends blood to your extremities instead of your brain. That’s why people say things they don’t mean when they are in an argument. Their brain is an actual state of deprivation, and they are not thinking clearly. Keeping your part under a minute contributes to a more healthy response rather than an unhealthy reaction.

Here are the steps:

Step 1 - Ask permission: “Can we talk about something?”

Step 2 - State the incident: “Sometimes you text others while we are talking.”

Step 3 - Share your thoughts: “That makes me wonder whether I am not important to you, if you don’t have texting boundaries, or if I should come back at another time when you can focus.”

Step 4 - Reveal your feelings: “When that happens sometimes I feel disrespected, and sometimes I feel frustrated because I’m not sure if I should bring it up.”

Step 5 - Communicate your concerns: “I wonder if you do this with others as well and if it is hurting your reputation.”

Step 6 - Own your part: “I probably should have brought it up the first time it happened.”

Step 7 - Invite a response: “What’s going on from your side? Am I missing something?”

Imagine this conversation that could easily take place for a small group leader:

"Hey, can I talk to you after small group for a minute?"

"I noticed you shared you are going through a lot right now."

"It’s making me think you could use more support in your life in this season."

"I feel overwhelmed just listening to what you are going through."

"I’m concerned that our small group is not the best place for you to share all that you have shared."

"I wonder if I should be offering you a connection with a pastor or if you may find what you need in a Support and Recovery group."

"What are you thinking?"

Our job is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit what we need to do. If he directs us to healthy confrontation, we need to do what he’s asked of us.

Tags: discussion, leader, questions, small groups, talk

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