Confrontation is frequently seen in a negative light!
We tend to respond differently when confrontation presents itself. This could be as follows:
- The goal is ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’! It’s my duty to put you right!
- I’m uncomfortable – so I’ll withdraw; conflicts are hopeless, people cannot change!
- It’s better to be nice, stay friends as differences can be disastrous to a relationship. I may be wrong anyway!
- I’ll meet you half way! A compromise – both sides give up a portion of their position/ values.
Perhaps none of these seem to be the right response? There is however a fifth way – ‘I want relationship and I also want honesty and integrity’. It has been called ‘care-fronting’ where there is high concern for relationship and high concern for truth.
With ‘Care-fronting’ you can say ‘I care about you and about our relationship’ and ‘I feel deeply about the issues at stake’! This is the most loving and the most growth promoting for human relationships. Sometimes however it is a goal that needs time to be achieved and other responses such as those set out above could be consciously chosen.
As you would expect Jesus modelled this approach with exemplary consistency, courage and clarity. Examples are:
The woman accused of adultery – ‘Let anyone among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her’. Such accruate confrontation! …………………..To the woman, ‘Where are they all – did no one condemn you?’ ……’No one , sir’; Neither do I condemn you’. Warm understanding care! ‘Go away and do not sin again’. Clear, unmistakable confrontation.
To the rich young ruler. Jesus listened to him, loved him and then confronted him. ‘Go, sell all, give to the poor, and come follow me’. What could be more clear?
Jesus spoke truth in love. He was truth. He was love. So the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us, and we saw His glory,……full of grace and truth (John 1:14).