Confront in Truth, Affirm in Love
By Rick Warren
— July 26, 2017
“A word of encouragement does wonders!” (Proverbs 12:25b TLB).
A healthy, strong relationship is always built on two legs: confronting in truth and affirming in love. If you only have one of these legs in your relationship, it isn’t going to stand. It will fall over at just about anything!
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. If I were to come to you today and say, “Let’s go have some coffee. I want to point out the areas in your life that need changing,” you would not be thanking me for it. You’d be saying, “Who do you think you are?” You’d be resentful, rebellious, resistant, and stubborn. You would be miserable, because when you share the truth, at first it hurts. Sometimes a surgeon has to cut out a cancer in order for a body to heal.
When you are having a speaking-the-truth-in-love session with somebody, you begin and end on a positive note, and you affirm three things:
1. Affirm that you love and care for that person.
2. Affirm that you will pray for and help that person.
3. Affirm that you believe that person can change.
Paul did this in 1 and 2 Corinthians. In both books, he begins and ends with affirmation. For example: Paul begins his first letter by saying, “I always thank God for you,” and at the end of the book he says, “My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.” Between that he’s dealing with some very tough truths. He begins and ends on a positive note, but he also includes affirmation like this in the middle of his second letter: “I have great confidence in you, and I have a lot of reasons to be proud of you” (2 Corinthians 7:4a GW).
Notice that Paul used the word “and.” You should never use the word “but” in a confrontation. The moment you do, whatever you say before or after will be totally ignored and invalidated: “I think you’re a great person, but . . .” “We’ve been friends a long time, but . . .” Instead, use the word “and”: “You’re a great person, and I believe you can be even better.” “We’ve got a great relationship, and I believe there are some things we need to work on.” That’s what it means to affirm someone.
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Talk It Over
- What are some practical ways you can plan what you’re going to say when you confront someone?
- How has someone used affirmation when correcting you in the past? How did it make you feel?
- Why does the truth sometimes hurt?
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