It Matters How You Say Something
By Rick Warren
“Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal” (Proverbs 12:18 GNT).
When you plan to lovingly confront someone, after you’ve checked and corrected your motivation, then plan your presentation. You have to think about when you’ll say it (make sure the other person is rested), what you’ll say (introduce it well so it will be received well), and how you’ll say it.
I’ve had a lot of practice in having a loving confrontation. And I’ve discovered that there are three things that work if you want the message to get through to the person you love.
1. Say it tactfully.
Proverbs 16:21 says, “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is” (GNT).You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. If you say it offensively, then it will be received defensively. But the more pleasant your words, the more persuasive you’ll be.
2. Say it lovingly.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:13a, “I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection” (The Message). You never use truth as a club. Don’t beat people up with the truth! You say it in a loving way. And how do you know if you’re saying it in a loving way? When it’s for their benefit, not yours.
3. Say it gently.
Galatians 6:1b says, “If someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path” (CEV). Being gentle means you lower your voice when you talk to someone and you show humility. Maybe you even qualify your approach: “I may be totally wrong about this, but . . .” or “I’m certainly not perfect. I’ve got a lot of problems in my life.” Don’t come in as the disciplinarian. Gently state how we all need help at some point, and express your love and concern for the person.
When you plan how you’re going to confront someone in love, remember this equation: Truth + Tact + Timing = Transformation.
Talk It Over
Think of the times you’ve responded well to discipline or confrontation. What did the people who confronted you do, so you could listen and understand what they were saying?
Which one of these attributes — being tactful, being loving, or being gentle — does not come easily to you? Pray, and ask God to help you specifically in that area.
Why is it important to consider when you’ll confront someone?
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