Confrontation + Humility = Joy

Some things happened the week after we were on vacation that have underscored for me the importance of strong relationships that can withstand any sort of conversation. If your relationships are too shallow to endure one person's sin and the confrontation by another, they are not the kind of relationships you need. Getting there is not easy and takes a huge risk of being hurt, but the rewards are great.

Just before I left on vacation, there was an open issue regarding the youth ministry (my domain as deacon). I was to talk with someone about taking a leadership role over part of the youth ministry and did not. I dropped the ball. Over the course of my vacation, and I confided this to Virusdoc when I met with him, I considered my inaction and had resolved to return with a change of heart. Frankly this incident just before I left was only the tip of the iceberg of my neglect of my duties as children's ministry deacon. I had gotten lazy and unconcerned about my ministry and it was time I repented. During the time I was gone, however, one of our leadership group acted to speak to this brother and in fact presented him to the church as the new leader. The kids in the ministry, the parents, the current leaders as well as the rest of the deacons and ministers were not aware that he was going to this at that time. Needless to say, this was not a good thing. This was not the course of action we (the leadership team) had intended. I was to speak to him and report back to the team. We would then talk about it and figure out the best course of action to move forward, bringing everyone in the loop.

When I returned, I, of course, was surprised to learn what had taken place. I had some very, um, open conversation with a very good friend on the leadership team. He helped me a lot to work through my hurt for being side stepped and my anger with this brother and encouraged me that I needed to talk with him about it. Really all he did was listen to my rantings and give me room to talk, but it was just what I needed. I knew I wasn't in the right place and needed help to get there. I asked his opinions and vented a bit. He told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to talk to the other brother. I agreed and after our talk, and some prayer, I was pretty much ready to talk to the other brother.

I was still a bit apprehensive about it at first. I was afraid that I would not be able to communicate what I felt went wrong, that I'd have to convince him that this was a problem. I was afraid that I'd not be able to get through, then I'd feel foolish and even more hurt. I've been down that road with different brothers and I didn't want to go there again. In the end I had no reason to be concerned this time. We met for lunch and almost immediately he brought up the situation and spilled on the table what he saw in himself that had hurt others and me. He acknowledged his shortcomings and we talked frankly about it and how he could do better. (I, too, apologized for my inattentiveness to my ministry.) He plainly admitted that this was a character flaw of his, and even cited past incidents, and that he needed help. It was a great example of Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:8-13).

It was so encouraging. It's amazing how something that had the potential for prolonged hurt and division can turn out for such good. His humility made all the difference. I'm also struck with how Godly confrontation can do so much good. Frankly, part of me wanted desperately to find a way to avoid speaking to him about it. I looked for excuses to sweep it under the rug, pretend it was a matter of opinion or not a big deal. Frankly it was a big deal because at the root of it his actions showed a greater concern with the problem being solved rather than the people involved with the problem. I could have listened to those deceitful inner voices and avoided the confrontation, but I would have missed out on an opportunity to become closer to this brother. I now feel more than ever that he and I are in the same fight for the souls of our church and God's honor. This, my friends, is how we must treat each other in God's church if we are to truly defeat Satan and honor God. I really believe that this is no small victory. If I had chickened out, I would have lingering doubt in my heart about his motives and there would be a small wedge between us. The seeds of division and doubt would have been sown and all that would all have to be overcome each time that he and I interacted. Furthermore, my silence would have been an act of cowardice and a lack of love. True friends not only laugh together, but should confront each other as well. Because of one small act of courage and one soft and humble heart a relationship is strengthened and our church is stronger for it too.

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