How to Make People Better Leaders 23 How to Confront Someone

If someone on your team, in your church is not doing what they should be, whether that is gossiping, lying, treating people badly, you need to confront. I spoke about that last week. Today I want to give you some quick bullet points on HOW TO CONFRONT SOMEONE.

  • Sooner Rather than Later. The longer the wait – two things will happen. Firstly, you are more likely to bottle it. Secondly, the person will keep doing it wrong and causing more trouble. The shorter the wait – firstly, you will not have to remember all the details, they will be fresh in your mind so that you will not be contradicted by someone chancing it; secondly, it means the person might still be soft and raw after doing it, so you have a real window to help them.
  • Confront the Action Rather than The Person. We are not in the business of condemning people and making them feel useless, we are in the business of discipling people by supporting them, encouraging them, loving them – while we explain to them why certain of their behaviours are wrong.
  • What the Person Can Control, Rather than Anything He Cannot. If you ask someone to change something they cannot control, you will just frustrate them.
  • Kindly Rather than Roughly. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, assume that they did what they did with a pure heart and with good motives. Many areas are open to interpretation and do not assume you know why someone did what they did.
  • Specifically Rather than Generally. Do not tell someone “do better”, be specific. If there are no specifics, perhaps you are just jumping to conclusions. Perhaps your assumptions are false and you need to check them!
  • Calmly rather than angrily. We all get angry in different ways, I tend to sarcasm when I am angry. Confronting someone over their behaviour is the wrong place for sarcasm! Trust me, I have learned that the hard way. Anger means you are dealing with the person, not the situation. Be very careful.
  • Narrowly not broadly. Never use the word never. Always avoid using the word always! If I tell someone “never ever do that” – it’s not a rule, when actually I want my leaders to be thinkers and leaders, not slaves to rules. I will tell them – think about this, is this the right time to do this, is this the right way to do it, because mostly it is not. The exceptions to this are moral issues. You can very much tell anyone in your church “Never commit adultery”, “always treat people kindly” and so on. But in things that are not moral, but a matter of style – such as “never preach three hours” – maybe there is a time for it, and you need your people to be aware of that. Selah.
  • State Your Feelings Rather than Vomit Them. Nothing wrong will telling someone “I was disappointed by that”, “that really wound me up” and explain why. But stop those feelings and harness them before you have the actual conversation! Don’t vent at someone while confronting them.
  • Future Minded not Past Minded. Can you give the person a plan for the future? Ok, they did something wrong, and you are standing them down as an elder let’s say, but will you reconsider in a year. Is there something they can listen to? How can they prove their character is changing, and you can trust them again? Give people a plan to progress (don’t be upset if they throw it in your face, but still give them a plan).
  • Affirm Rather than Assassinate. I have had to stand down a couple of elders in the last 12 years, it is not easy, but I have never stood them down as a friend. Some people talk about the confrontation sandwich. Bread of friendship, confront as leader, bread of friendship. That way the conversation starts and ends affirming the person has value.
  • Positive Rather than Negative. Make sure that person walks away knowing not just “I have messed up” but “my leader loves me and cares for me, and has my best interests at heart”. Or at the very least you know you tried your hardest to convey that to them.

Confrontation is a time to grow. It’s like pruning a tree to enable more fruit.

Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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