Difficult Conversations Done Right – 6 Critical Steps

...to help you be more like Jesus during difficult conversations. He is the ultimate catalyst. What does that mean? Look up the definition of "catalyst". It is an agent that speeds up change and isn't changed in the process. Now that is definitely how Jesus acts.

So, how can you be more like Christ when you decide to have a difficult conversation with someone? God has a "catalytic" approach which He has outlined in Galatians 6:1-5.

Be Spirit-Led

"You who are spiritual", "considering yourself" - Paul just finished talking about the fruit of the Spirit, so it is obvious "spiritual" is about walking in the Spirit as opposed to the flesh.

During difficult conversations, it's easy for the flesh to take you in the wrong direction - "lest you be tempted". You can easily be sidetracked by what the person says to you or your emotions. 

Difficult conversations only work right when you are following the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. -- Galatians 6:1-5

Difficult Conversations Done Right

Think Restore

"Restore" is about mending. God wants you walking in the Spirit with a heart that desires to mend and restore relationships, not leave them broken. He wants you to say “yes” to the other person, even when they say “no”.

It is so easy to not have a difficult conversation when you need to. The thought of the emotional conflict that may happen becomes a big flashing stop sign - stop, don't do it!

But, God is in the business of restoration and redemption. He wants you to be a channel of His grace, mercy and truth.​ You are not doing this alone, His Spirit is guiding you. So, let's see how God uses you in this conversation.

Be Gentle

A "spirit of gentleness" is only possible with humility and, that too, is the context of this passage. Look at Galatians 5:26, the verse immediately preceding first verse of chapter 6 says, "Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."

Gentleness reduces barriers, force raises them. Difficult conversations are not about you using truth as a sledge hammer. It is about you using the truth in love, following the Holy Spirit to see how God might use you to restore this person.

Love

Not only gentle, but do this in love. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ". Love is the law of Christ which is defined as pursuing the best for others; patiently, kindly, sacrificially and unconditionally.

You will not bear their burdens unless you want what is best for them. Love requires a decision before you enter the conversation, while you have the conversation and after you finish. 

Rejoice

If the conversation helps them and they are changed, it’s not because of you. Look at this part of the passage. “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." 

This looks like a direct reference to the times that we take the credit instead of giving credit to God for any change that occurred. It is also a clear reference to the obstacle to love - thinking about "ME" more than others.

And, I think what comes next is a critical, but overlooked part of the passage. If I am correct about what follows, it will help you have the difficult conversations.

"But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, not in another." Suppose the conversation seemed to be a failure - the person rejected what you said. Then it is time to "examine his own work and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone". That isn't a "ME" flashing moment. You did what was right, so you are praising God that He is at work in you and being thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

This is about FREEDOM to accept that others have a choice. The rejoicing is "not in another", because they changed. Instead, you are rejoicing that you did what God wanted you to do. "For each one shall bear his own load" is about you being accountable for your behavior and them for theirs.

Persevere

Finally, look ahead at Galatians 6:9. Difficult conversations typically start the process toward a solution. That means you will need to persevere, because most things aren’t solved overnight. Don't tire of doing what is right "for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart".

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