Weekly Thought – July 12, 2022
Fred often wore the “heavy hat” as he sat on boards. His ability to see truth and then follow through with appropriate action were foundational to his ethical standards. Proper confrontation was clear to him and seen as a leader’s responsibility.
A Case for Confrontation
In the matter of confrontation, I probably am called on more than anybody else I know. People in business, ministry, even family situations get around their own involvement by saying “Smith enjoys conflict.” NO, I don’t enjoy it at all. But I will confront if it is productive. But let’s be clear: confrontation is only called for when the goal is productivity.
A recent situation is a good example. An individual has failed to face a problem. It got very serious, and very expensive so they came to me. When I said to the leader in charge he dodged the problem, finally saying, “I can’t, would you?” He has a distinct failing in this area. He often refuses to confront until he gets mad, then becomes abusive. That is not productive confrontation. I stepped in, not because I like or enjoy it. I took action because I believed it was the right thing to be done, and whatever is right should be done.
The Christian community has done a very poor job with confrontation. I am convinced the level of individual accomplishment in Christian organizations is notoriously lower (as a whole) than it should be because unlike business, the leaders confuse the presence of love means the absence of confrontation.
This often cowardly policy shows a lack of maturity. Waiting until you are mad, at the point of embarrassment by the behavior, or pushed into a corner creates an unhealthy environment.
A man asked me to talk to one of his friends. I agreed and met him for breakfast. As we talked I found out he had just done some extremely foolish things. So, I gave him a verbal kick in the pants. Afterwards, I called my friend to tell him about the meeting. I said, “I’m sorry, but the friend you sent to me probably didn’t particularly like or appreciate what I did, but I kicked him in the pants.” He responded, “Fred, I am really glad you did that. I would have, but I didn’t want to lose the friendship.”
I believe he has the concept completely wrong. I think his friendship (if it is truly a friendship) was the basis for the appropriate confrontation. Until I am willing to risk a relationship with a truthful confrontation, that relationship really isn’t worthwhile.
A quick family word: Mary Alice and I decided when the children came along we were going to be their parents, not their buddies, pals, or friends. This flew in the face of the social culture of the 50s and 60s. We weren’t always the favorite parents, but we knew it was our responsibility to lovingly and productively confront at times. We have three fine adult children who now follow that pattern with their own families.
This week think about: 1) How “risk averse” am I to confront? 2) What helps me understand confrontation must be productive, not reactive? 3) When am I called on to be “the heavy?”
Words of Wisdom: “Until I am willing to risk a relationship with a truthful confrontation, that relationship really isn’t worthwhile.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Against you—you above all—I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me.” (Psalm 51:4 NET Bible)