Sometimes hard conversations have to happen. It is part of being a leader. It is a part of leading a ministry with both students and volunteers. Tough conversations when handled correctly can help people grow. I think sometimes people think that because you are in ministry it means you can't be confrontational but when I look at Jesus and how He lead, there were plenty of times in which He confronted both the disciples and Pharisees. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind the next time you have to have a tough conversation:
- Pray before- Seems obvious but if I do forget to one thing the most, it’s this one. It’s so easily overlooked but it really is the most important. There is nothing better than going into what can be a very difficult conversation than going in knowing that you went before the King and gave Him the situation before you even began with the student or leader. I pray that He gives me the correct words to say in ministering to the student and discernment when counseling them.
- Ask - Ask yourself, "Does this need to be even brought up? Does it need to be handled right now? Am I thinking about this too much? Does it really matter? Does something even need to be said?" Going through some of these things can help you process what is about to happen.
- Be up front- There is no use to dancing around the situation. I would always try to “warm them up” before actually getting to the meat. As soon as they sit down, I lovingly let them know that I want to talk about something that can be hard to hear but it important because I love and care for them, then I go into it.
- Be on their side- Confrontation is exactly that when two people are going head to head. If you can’t confront someone with love and with a positive end in mind for them (redemption, restoration, growth), you shouldn’t be confronting them in the first place. Remind them of this as well—that you’re on their side—and that you want to see this issue resolved in a way that everyone learns and grows through it.
- Go in private- Go in private according to Matthew 18:15. A one-on-one conversation. If you cannot overlook the issue then attempt to resolve the conflict or misunderstanding by applying God’s principle of going one on one whenever possible. There is no benefit in calling them out in front of their friends after service or small group about something they have been doing (Finish reading Matthew 18 if one-on-one doesn’t get through).
- When it gets heated, slow down -When things get heated it can be really easy to get revved up with them. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and just go for it. Slow down, get collected. Take a few breaths and think about what happened. The art of holding your tongue is hard and the art of confrontation with a calm demeanor is harder. Not going off and slowing yourself down before speaking will always be beneficial.
- Point Them To Jesus- Overall, you are to point them to Jesus. As ministers that is what we are supposed to do. We need to use these times of confrontation as teaching and learning for our students and leaders and for us as pastors as well. If we can leave the conversation with the students leaning on Jesus more, than it is a success.