When I was first cutting my teeth on teaching and public speaking I made a lot of mistakes (not to say I still don’t). I was young and saw everything as black or white, right or wrong and most honestly, my way or the wrong way. As I look back I often wonder why people even allowed me to continue talking, none-the-less teaching!

 When I lived in St. Louis I was a leader in the Singles Ministry at my church where I led a rather large group of Single Again adults. One week I had a few men who were also leaders within the ministry team, invite me to their river house for the weekend. It sounded like a good time so I accepted, but little did I know that the short weekend get away was a planned operation with an agenda…A CONFRONTATION WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!


 I’ll never forget it. We had not been at the river long when I found myself surrounded by these men at the bottom of the stairs outside. There wasn’t a lot of beating around the bush either as they begin by saying, “Robert, you’re a great leader and teacher; however you need to get a lot more grace in your teaching or it’s going to hold you back.”


Wow! Me? I lead one of the largest classes in the church. People like me! How dare these guys tell me I’m not doing things right! I spend 8 hours a week preparing. Who else does this? Needless to say, while on the outside I was smiling (or so I think…I might have looked like I was about to commit a murder and just didn’t realize it!), inside my gut was wrenching. The truth is that the immaturity in me was coming to the surface.


While a few of these things went through my mind initially, I did swallow the pride pill and eventually received what these great men were communicating. And because I did change my attitude from the initial knee-jerk reaction, it changed my life. My teaching, public speaking and leadership took a positive shift from that moment forward.


Confrontation is a good thing if both the motive of those giving it is positive (having the best interest of the person in mind) and out of true concern, and then it is combined with the openness from the one receiving the insight. This is where growth occurs in leadership.

 I have come up with the following formulas when confrontation occurs:

 (Confrontation + Bad Motives) + (Openness) = Resentment

 (Confrontation + Good Motives) + (Closed) = Failure

 (Confrontation + Good Motives) + (Openness) = Growth

When you confront someone always take a moment to ask yourself: 

 “Why am I initiating this conversation?”

 “What is it that has bothered me enough to bring me to this point?”

 “Is this really about them or about me?”

 “What do I expect to get out of this conversation?”


Confrontation can help a person grow. We all need those people in our lives that will be honest and are looking to bring out our best. Open your heart to what they have to say. It’s not easy to hear we aren’t all that and a bag of potato chips, but if we receive it with the right attitude we can become more than we ever imagined.

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