From time to time, we all have serious conflict with those around us. You want your child to choose college, but they want a surfing career. Your daughter brings home the “wrong guy.” Your employer requires sensitivity training that promotes principles the Bible opposes. Your spouse wants to buy that bigger house and you want to be more generous with your giving. The list goes on and on.
I am grateful that the Bible is so insightful into everyday living. Embedded in Galatians chapter two, we get a glimpse of how to handle tough conversations. The Apostle Paul was trying to sort out a big theological problem in the early church. The leaders had to decide if Gentile believers had to be circumcised like their Jewish brothers. Those deep discussions concluded with James, Peter and John giving Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (shaking their hands) and sending them on their way to preach to the Gentiles.
Paul handled those tough conversations with grace and maturity. And in the end, a very difficult issue was resolved.
So maybe this week, you and I can think through some practical suggestions to help us handle difficult conversations. Let’s remember to start small and make sure the timing is right. A great discussion can quickly go sideways if the timing isn’t perfect.
Don’t forget to be respectful. We can respect and appreciate the other person, even when we are diametrically opposed to their position. Using a conversational approach really helps to avoid the sense that you are debating in a courtroom. The key to that kind of approach is to keep your motive pure. The topic isn’t just your preference, you hope to come to an understanding that is true to God’s Word.
Remember that “different strokes for different folks” is a policy that works at home, in the office and in a neighborhood. Especially in difficult conversations, wisdom teaches that different approaches can accomplish the same goal. Consider your audience.
Compromise, consideration, and concessions are all great goals for many discussions, but occasionally the issue really matters. Sometimes, we just have to take a stand and hold to the precepts found in scripture. When that happens, remember to be standing for God’s principles, not your preferences.
Our tough conversations have a purpose. We are not just letting off steam. Swatting words and fighting verbal battles is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Addressing tough issues takes self-control and wisdom.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Col. 4:6)