positive confrontation

5 Times We Need to Be Confrontational

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I will never forget how bright the police car lights were as I walked up to the house. It was just after sunset, and a friend had called me frantically asking me to come over. Her husband had just beaten her, and she’d called 9-1-1. When I arrived, he was already in handcuffs. I knew this couple well and noticed many troubling signs over the years that made me wonder if a day like this would come. “Don’t meddle,” I told myself repeatedly. I wish I had. So many times, I wanted to confront this man over his concerning behavior, language, and attitude toward his wife, but in an effort to be “nice,” I stayed silent. The result was worse than I could have imagined.

I don’t know anyone who likes confrontation. Butting heads is rarely a fun experience, but sometimes, it’s vital. Choosing positive confrontation when people are harming themselves or others is not meddling—it’s compassion. Standing up to destructive patterns is what being a man is all about. Here are 5 times positive confrontation is necessary.

Confronting people who are harming themselves or others is not meddling—it’s compassion.

1. Confronting Pride

I hated group projects in school. Hated them. I was the kind of student who got an idea in his head and wasn’t willing to budge on it. I wanted to do things my own way, and that often came at the expense of our overall grade. I wish I had been paired up with people more willing to persuade me that my way wasn’t always the best way. I needed to be confronted about my pride. In Matthew 23, Jesus scolds the religious leaders of his day for praying loudly in public to garner praise from peers rather than praying in private for only God to hear. The leaders were more interested in getting attention and fame than in being genuine, and Jesus called them out for it, saying “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

2. Confronting a Cheater or Liar

I taught my son to play chess while on a family vacation. He became a little obsessed with it. It’s fun to play with him, but he is ultra-competitive and hates to lose, which is a problem for a kid who barely knows the rules of the game. More than a few times, I caught him sliding pieces into better positions when he thought I wasn’t looking. He’s young, but that sneaky move was a sign of a little thing that could grow into a bigger issue.

Cheating and lying are like tiny sparks that can balloon into a roaring fire. They lead to trust issues, which can derail a marriage and set up barriers between fathers and children. None of this is good, which is why “a lying tongue” is listed as one of the seven things the Lord “hates” in Proverbs. We need to confront people who cheat and lie and teach them to live with integrity.

3. Confronting Immaturity

It is possible to be a 6-foot-3, 200-pound, 36-year-old child. Just because men are large in stature doesn’t mean they are large in virtue. Some positive confrontation will help here. Immaturity holds men back from being good dads, husbands, employees, and friends. If you know someone who is constantly choosing the childish over the mature, remind him that there are people looking up to him who need him to grow up. This could get contentious, but it’s a sign of true compassion to tell someone to behave admirably. First Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” This should be our message to men struggling with immaturity.

4. Confronting Abuse

When we think of abuse, substance abuse is often the first thing that comes to mind. The CDC says 22% of American men binge drink and on average do so five times per month. Alcohol abuse can spiral out of control quickly and we need to be ready to confront it in ourselves and our friends. But abuse goes beyond just substances.

Exposing abuse of any kind—physical, mental, sexual, or other—is the best thing you can do for an abuser. Abuse of any kind is damaging to yourself, your friends, and your family. Allowing abuse to continue is neither loving nor compassionate. Jesus confronted abuse after seeing money changers overcharging and stealing from poor temple visitors. He wouldn’t stand by and allow that abuse to happen, so he grabbed a whip and drove the money changers out in righteous anger (John 2:13-16).

5. Confronting Destructive Habits

One of the most toxic things a man can participate in is pornography. Porn is bad, but it’s not the only poison we need to flush out. Confront a friend about his poor eating or exercise habits, gambling if it’s getting out of hand, and any flirtatious behavior with anyone who isn’t his wife. This could mean offering to be a source of accountability for friends who struggle in this area. It will be worth the effort. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us: “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.” We can help people forming destructive habits move into better patterns by confronting them.

Sound off: What are some other things that need positive confrontation?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some examples of times you should stand up to someone who is doing the wrong thing?”