A Day in the Life of a Pastor – Have the Hard Conversation


No one likes confrontation. I don’t like confrontation. But…I love the results. As I continue in my journey as a Christian, husband, father and Pastor, confronting “life’s challenges” allows there to be dialogue.

One of my nuggets in recent years is that “the best compliment I can give a person, is to speak to them openly and honestly.” That doesn’t give me permission to be crass or unfiltered. Instead, it gives me a platform to speak directly and truthfully about how I feel about the situation. If one can do this without judgement of a person, it can be a very positive conversation. The key is that the other person has permission to do the same. What happens is honest dialogue that eliminates the “behind the conversation” message. In communicating through these challenges, it takes the questions away from what the true message is. The people can evaluate, think and ponder what the other person is saying. In the end, they will agree, disagree or need more time. But, there shouldn’t be personal offense or attack.

I recently shared with a group of pastors the principle of having the hard conversations today. This was a challenging subject and we discussed it at length. Here is a tip I shared that might make it easier for you. Say the hard thing in two sentences and take a breath.   Your job is to craft your sentence about the issue, not the person.  Remember, attack the problem, not the person.   If the person is the problem, you can usually distill it down to a behavior or spoken words that create.  The reason you take a breath is because we instinctively want to rush in and save the person and the moment from pain.  By taking a breath, you allow the statement to sink in and let them process.  It also allows you to read their body language to see how they are receiving the message.   Then, you can follow it up with this statement. “I know I said a lot to consider.  If you want to take some time to think about this and we can talk later.  Think of any questions you may have and we can discuss it then.”  Why is that important?  They are usually surprised by your  statement and need to process.  Give them that respect to get their minds around what you have had a longer time to process. If they choose to discuss it then, patiently answer the questions truthfully and keep resolving the issue. Resolution comes when both sides know the issue and can take steps forward from it.

This is a great principle.  It works in all relationships – spouse, kids, friends, family, business and acquaintances.  In the end, what is your alternative?  To simply continue with that behavior or action and just “live with it?”  By saying the hard thing today, everyone gets to move forward.

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