Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 NLT).
Friend to Friend
A ministry leader contacted me about someone on our volunteer team who had fallen into sin due to a personal decision. It seemed to me that the best way to handle it was to send an email saying: “Hey, you know that’s not good. Stop doing that. Get it together.” But rather than shoot off an email with threats or requiring a behavior change, I set up a face-to-face meeting. I sat on my sofa and asked the person a series of questions that conveyed I cared about what was going on in her life, not just the situation.
Over the years, God has taught me that my first responsibility is to love, not finger-pointing or judgment. The goal isn’t to fix people so that I can feel better about being an effective Christian. The goal is to point people to the life-giving power of the gospel so that they may experience the fullness of God’s love and embrace freedom in Christ.
Today’s Truth is a powerful reminder that when we share the struggles of others, we are following Jesus’ example. The person that I met with that day was sagging under the weight of sadness, sin and shame. If you recall Jesus’ encounters with the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the unnamed bleeding woman and others, he stepped into their reality and led with love, not judging them for the religious laws that they’d broken. Jesus’ love paved the way for them to receive life-transforming Truth so that they could be restored or healed.
When the Apostle Paul mentions the “law of Christ” in Today’s Truth, it’s a reference to Jesus’ Great Commandment to love God and love others (Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). Too often, we demand that people hurry up and fix themselves. Jesus didn’t ever force people to get themselves together. He showed them love and truth and let them decide for themselves their next steps.
During that face-to-face meeting, my questions opened up a conversation about the individual’s life and spiritual journey. Letting godly love and concern lead our conversation changed the atmosphere around them from shame and despair into hope. The lesson that I carry with me is that when hard conversations reflect Jesus’ loving heart, people hear us better.
Within a few months, the person made some radical decisions to walk toward God’s best for her life. One of the sweetest moments happened when I ran into her a year later and discovered she was smiling, serving at church, and growing in her faith. Though she had been scared and ashamed about the situation, she felt God’s Spirit working within her during our conversation.
Below are some questions or statements that I have developed over many years to help me have hard conversations in a God-honoring and people-loving way. Perhaps one or more of these can equip you to approach your next hard conversation in a more loving way. Which one of these suggestions resonates strongly with you?
- I care about you, and I’m praying God’s best blessing for your life.
- Where do you feel close to God? Is there a place where you feel far from God?
- Can you tell me what’s been hard about this for you?
- I’ve seen…. I’ve noticed…. (Share firsthand observations, not opinions or speculation.)
- What do you think God’s best is for you in this situation?
- I’d like to connect you with a mentor you can check-in with for the next few months; is that okay?
Sometimes, hard conversations have to happen. But we don’t need to fear or avoid them. We can have hard conversations in a God-honoring way when those conversations are wrapped in Spirit-led gentleness and most of all, love.
God, remind me that You are responsible for life change, not me. You’ve called me to love and lead people to You. Help me to share Your gospel of grace as the only way to true freedom – and more effective than any self-help method out there. Thank You that I can trust Your power to transform willing lives.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What is the hardest part for you about having hard conversations?
Which one of the statements/questions above could be a part of your next hard conversation?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s content is from Barb’s new Bible study, Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ. This six-week Bible study on the book of Galatians teaches you how to find freedom from following religious rules and fear of not being enough for God. Barb’s study includes six powerful Freedom Principles and application exercises that equip you to break free from fear and experience God’s great adventure of joy and purpose for your life.
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