Sharing Negative Feedback | Speaking the Truth but in Love Webinar
It seems like it is often easier to share the positive over the negative when giving feedback. Yet the negative can be how we learn and grow. In this webinar recording, we considered skills needed for sharing negative feedback as well as some of the barriers that can get in the way. Watch the webinar recording to learn more about loving, understanding, receiving, empowering, and appealing to others through these hard conversations.
So again, welcome to this webinar on sharing the truth, but in love. And I will tell you, Matt and Katie, this one seems to strike a chord with people. We have had more signups for this webinar than probably any of our webinars. And, I think probably, I don’t know, in my opinion, for good reason. This is one of those things that I think we all know we are supposed to do.
Yet, how do we do it? And lucky for you, you will, well maybe unfortunately for you, you will not get all the answers today. But we’ll give you a few, hopefully, just try to help steer some principles in the right direction. So looking forward to that conversation together and spending time together.
Let’s start with it this way. Okay. I want you just to think about this from a perspective here. Is there in your life, if you think about your life right now, is there a conversation, a difficult conversation that you would like to have but you don’t quite know how to get into it?
Or perhaps that you’ve been putting off? Matt, Katie, does that resonate with you at all? You know, this idea of hard conversations that we’re afraid to get into? It certainly does and it does speak even to our own personalities. I am one to avoid. So there’s a plethora of conversations and they tend to stack up longer we avoid. Now others maybe have a temperament of more eager to address them and so they race ahead. And so there’s really a discipline in the middle, Arlan, as you introduce this. I’m gonna recall, I may be wrong on this, but I think it was Martin Luther who made the comment something to the effect of the downfall of a pastor he said is softness and the downfall of a pastor is hardness. They’re both downfalls and it’s hard to get the right balance. So I think that speaks again to the interest on this topic. I would echo a little bit of Brother Matt, most of us, we don’t necessarily run towards conflict.
We don’t run towards hard, we don’t run towards difficult. But yet when I was asked to do this webinar, I’m definitely one that doesn’t mind hard or doesn’t mind difficult. So the piece of this that struck a chord with me, and perhaps there’s listeners out there who can identify that with this, whether you’re a business owner, you’re a mom, you are, a school board member, whatever the hard and the difficult are gonna happen, but in love, right?
But in love using Christ as an example. And we’ll speak to that throughout today’s conversation. Christ had a lot of difficult conversations. The reflection questions up here on your screen right now. Which ones do you need to have? Actually, there’s maybe some difficult conversations somebody needs to have with us.
So as a mind frame, as a mindset going into this, I think we always think of it from our own sake and own personal ownership, but how do we want people to treat act love towards us when they’re having difficult conversations too? Like I think of who I need to have difficult conversations with and speak the truth in love.
There’s someone out there who needs to speak the truth in love with me as well, I’m sure of it. And what I really like is this idea of that balance, right? If you almost think of a spectrum or continuum between truth on one side and love or grace on the other side. And it says in the Scriptures it says that Jesus Christ was perfect in both full of grace and truth, right?
He had complete a hundred percent of each, which is always our target and our goal. But the reality is we probably fall on that spectrum one side or the other. Maybe we’re more loving, maybe we’re more truthful. Maybe it depends on the relationship. We might be one way with family members and a different way with coworkers.
I think identifying and understanding some of those things is really, really an important piece. And just to have an idea of thinking that through. So there’s a Scripture where we get this from, this Scripture idea from Ephesians. Matt, why don’t you speak into that a little bit Ephesians 4, talk us through where we get this phrase, speaking the truth in love there in verse 15. So starting there at the middle of the verse, middle of the passage there in front of us, the bold. But speaking the truth in love is really the title of this webinar. But I would like to maybe notice where it fits in Scripture. It’s a bit of a hinge, it is a hinge point or a fulcrum between two comparisons. But it’s initiated with, but speaking the truth in love which basically sets in contrasts two possible realities. Let’s go to the former reality. Let’s go to before it. So verse 14 says that we hence forth be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the slight of men in the cunning craftiness, whereby they lie and wait to deceive.
All right, so that’s got a minor tone to it, dark hues all over it. Of being tossed to and fro. Lots of imagery there. And it’s very clear in verse 14. That’s not a spot we want to be at, nor anyone else. That is contrasted with verse 15. The end may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
Notice that not the tossed to and fro, but the security, the solidity of that verse and this concept to speaking the truth in love, find itself as a hinge between those two realities, which I think gives us even more purpose in this particular concept. I totally agree, Matt, and my mind goes to how many relationships in our lives fragment almost because we do not understand this skill or lean into this skill properly.
The promise of the Scripture that says we can go from a place of instability to a place of more solidity or stability on Christ and that hinge being the ability to have hard conversations in a loving and truthful manner. Because to Katie’s point earlier, that’s what we would want done to us and we wanna model that or think about that or reflect on that powerful thought to think about. We are going to, as a point of order, we’re gonna really focus on a couple of different spots here. What are skills for having those and what are barriers that keep us from sharing that negative feedback in a loving and honest manner? So skills and barriers are the two different objectives, and I don’t think we’ll hit it all.
I don’t know if we’re gonna have that perfect formula for you to apply in every time. But I hope what we do, and you’ll see it on this next slide here, is have just a series of principles or a series of different discussion points to walk through, which I hope frame it up or just center our minds around some of these things.
And then the application, I think becomes the important, but perhaps difficult part with that. Any thoughts, Matt or Katie, before we start to dive into these different skills or barriers just to frame up this overall thinking here. No, I think this is a good rubric for going forward.
So let’s go ahead and start dissecting these. I think having those two frameworks is helpful. What should I be, what skillset should I add? And then what barriers should I be aware of? I think is great. It is also a personal reflection here on which propensity do we fall on?
Some of these words are gonna describe some of us more than others. And, and I do. That’s a great point, Katie. Let’s leave that view these as a continuum. Oh. I think it’s always healthy for us to view things as more as a continuum and a growth, as opposed to a black or white.
Either we’re loving or we’re avoiding, more likely I think we’re either tending towards one or tending towards another. And I think that just helps us how do we shift more towards that? Some of you submitted questions ahead of time when you registered, which we really appreciate and we’ll try to address many of those throughout the time.
But one individual said something to the effect of, I know my tendency is towards this, and so how do I balance that out a little bit? And, I think that’s a really helpful lens as we just walk through some of these different areas here. And then also I think just have in your mind, perhaps just even that hard conversation that you wish you could have that you know you need to have.
And, very practically speaking, how do these principles speak to that reality in your life? It takes it from words on the screen to actual application. So, let’s walk into the first section here. Okay. Loving, not avoiding. And we have a Scripture here from Hebrews, part of a longer passage.
But in the midst of that passage, the Scripture says this, For whom the Lord loves, he chasteneth, right, or he corrects. For whom the Lord loves, he corrects. And I think that’s an important verse to speak into. What does that say to you? Matt, I’ll start with you. Katie, I’ll go to you next there.
What’s that say to you? I think it’s an important paradigm, and certainly, those of us who have children understand the truth of this or it becomes true and new in important ways when we do discipline our children. And, when we approach them and say the hard thing, it’s really out of a heart of love and out of a hope for a good end.
And so maybe I would just simply say this, and we’re gonna touch more on this, in this presentation, but to have a vision and an end of blessing a person. of encouraging a person, of getting that person in a more human flourishing place is always the intent. That’s the intent God always has when he interacts with us, even through discipline, even through saying the hard thing is getting us it’s not to condemnation, but it’s to salvation and it’s to restoration, and it’s to all of those redemption, all of those things that he does.
So, if we can adopt God’s mind and heart on that, that’s step one. God loves us so much, he doesn’t avoid us, right? Is what Matt’s speaking to there. He’s going towards us. To avoid is often not to love, right? So, we don’t want God to avoid us. We want God to love us.
And therefore the reciprocation of that with other believers would be that the towardsness. You’re right. I mean, this is about relationship and this idea of actually entering into a relationship or entering into a conversation can be a sign of love. Because I think that tendency or that barrier, that even I’ll use the word sin sometimes can be to avoid and to just run away from something because it’s easier.
And it’s harder, to chasten or to correct or to engage in that. And so there is a little bit of a mindset focus here of saying, What do I really want in this scenario? You know, you almost got two payoffs. I can continue down the path I’m on of avoidance or just dodging around it and almost move towards superficial.
Or I can prayerfully engage in the hard, loving and truthful conversations and go towards a greater level of depth. Now that’s painting with a broad brush. Because I’m sure there’s always qualifiers it seems like. But how, is it that simple? Either we love and we engage or we don’t and we avoid.
I wish human nature was that simple. Unfortunately, it’s just not quite. Relationships are great when they don’t exist. There’s no need to avoid, there’s no need to love. That’s definitely not what Scripture calls us to. So understanding myself, my nature is definitely human nature and fleshly, allows me a little bit more empathy going towards that and not avoiding the person I need to have that conversation with their human nature.
And I might just add a little bit more to that, take that point and then a little further, Katie, and you previously mentioned that there are probably hard conversations that people need to have with us. When we open ourselves up for discipline as this verse really suggests, when we open ourselves up to this process, we really learn how to do it.
And I think that’s an important teacher. And that is the heart and mind of a believer and of a disciple whom we are is we open ourselves up for that. And that’s far easier said than done. And a lot of us at our testimony answer that question, Would you be willing both to receive and to give, chastening or admonishment, right?
And so it’s an easy nod, but there’s some real health in being able to receive and open yourself up to that of others that will be a teacher in itself. Absolutely. I think there’s a couple other points too that come to my mind. I think we are often playing this dynamic about is a risk and reward.
Like is there, what’s the risk and what is the potential for this? And that is a reality, that we have to play out in our life. Some pragmatic aspect there. And I think this speaks a little bit to the different levels of relationship. If it’s a family member, that’s one thing.
If it’s children, that’s another thing. If it’s a coworker that you’re gonna be with the whole a long time, that’s another relationship. If it’s a church member, that’s a relationship. If it’s someone we’re just meet, and don’t probably expect to have a long term relationship.
It all colors, I think, our willingness to engage or not engage. And it speaks, I think, to just that dynamic we’re playing out in our heads of is this the appropriate conversation to get into? And what could be the consequences of this conversation if it’s done right or if it’s not done right, what are those. Proverbs says, it’s a glory of man to overlook a transgression. And there’s some truth there. In certain times, we have to do a little bit of that analysis of is this thing I wanna talk about? Is it really that important that I need to get into that? Or is it something I should be overlooking?
I wish there was like really clear lines, but I don’t think reality is probably like that. Reality is if that’s a prayerful discernment often each time. Any thoughts to add to that or any comments that come to your mind as we think about that? The risk reward piece there, Arlan, is fascinating considering the deeper the relationship, the closer the relationship, the harder it is to have these conversations. Yet the greater the reward, the more important that there’s risk in it. There’s risk in that the risk is greater, yet the reward is greater. An employee who just gets hired from an employer, there’s not that deep relationship yet.
The connectivity, and that speaks to our Father as well, right? The longer we know him, the more we walk with him, the more faith we have. And yet that risk reward pattern, the potential in our life, the sanctification in our life is important as a brother or sister towards our Father’s relationship.
I think that actually leads a little bit towards the next one here, where we start to talk about that level of relationship we can have. And so let’s move on to that next aspect. But just one point as we pass on from this, I remember when I was a teacher in a public school for a period of time and it was easy to wanna avoid hard conversations and just almost ignore kids.
You could have all kinds of excuses. You’re busy, there’s a lot going on, there’s hard things going on, so on and so forth. It’s easy to just not get into it and that kind of a thing. But even that sends a message and build stories in our minds. To engage someone lovingly to correct them, tells that person that they are worth my time and I care about them enough to do so.
That’s that love piece. And to just ignore and just say, I’m gonna avoid and just hope it all goes away. Is really, I mean, I’m living out a story there too that they’re not worth my time. And I think that’s a real convicting piece for me is to think about that level of love and what that means.
So that speaks here to this idea of relationship. Now, our next terminology here, understanding, not assuming, this effective correction requires the right to give it, or we could say the relationship building to give it. Let’s feather this out a little bit. Matt, Katie, one of you walk into this a little bit more.
What comes to your mind as you think about the difference between understanding a person or just assuming things about them. So if I think of understanding versus assuming, and I think of a difficult relation, how many of us I should say, a person is all of a sudden having a conversation with us and it starts getting really tense and all of a sudden we just jump, our mind jumps, our heart jumps.
Like who are they to say this? What gives them the right? We use the right there to tell me this or why, what is going on here? What they’re speaking about this, but they so that’s not a very understanding mindset. That’s an assumption mindset. It’s very natural for human nature to do such, but it’s not necessarily a very heart empathetic nature to do such.
But it’s very, very common. It just speaks to effective correction requires the right to give it. But at the same token, we’ll talk about this a little later, with empowering it presenting ourselves. Am I assuming, or am I thinking, the effective correction piece with a hard conversation?
Where am I going with that? Am I doing it with effective correction? Is the love piece of the statement in front of you, brothers and sisters? That’s the love piece of trying to understand but not assume. Matt, what thoughts come to your mind when you think about this? I think it’s important to understand that the right as it’s been put in quotes there, really comes and from different venues as well and being aware of that some are more persuasive and others are less persuasive, right?
For example, if you get promoted to supervisor, you become in a moment the authority to make certain calls and call certain people out on certain things that you otherwise didn’t have the authority to do. So it comes with that power, you might say and I think it’s important that we understand the power that we have with people and the authority that we have over them, and I think that’s going to help us navigate that.
Another way though is through relationship, and I think you both said it well right there is certain relationships you have with a person that gives you the right to needle in and talk about the hard conversation or to ask certain questions. But having a little bit of a wherewithal on what gives me the right to have this conversation helps us maybe formulate the words or chart a path forward.
Yeah, I appreciate that. And I think where my mind also goes with this is just this idea of do I really understand all that’s going on, that empathy aspect? Do I really, am I seeking to understand or to be understood is that common phrase we can use sometimes. Because I can easily, personally speaking, I can easily make assumptions and have my preconceived ideas of what’s wrong and why it’s wrong and what the person needs to do and so on and so forth.
And I think a better approach is to go in with a natural level of curiosity, to have a desire to understand better, to get to build the relationship better and to be willing to dispel those assumptions that can be really skewing the relationship if I’m not careful.
I think Arlan, that really speaks to one of the questions that was raised here. Somebody had put this in, How do I lovingly tell a friend that something they are doing is not right? I think with this question we get a person with the right, as we’ve described it, to say something, the relationship’s there.
And then we get to this, how do we do this in a loving friend relationship, which sometimes are more difficult, right? Because the fallout, the risk is so much higher. And not that this is the full answer to that question, but I think part of the answer to that question lies here in this understanding piece that we would ask good questions.
You mentioned curiosity, Arlan, which is really, really good to be curious, to say don’t do this. I don’t, If you say, Why do you do X, Y, and Z? Supposing X, Y, and Z is concerning, why do you do X, Y, and Z? You immediately put them on the defensive. They have to explain themselves, which is not helpful.
So be very careful about asking people why but to simply ask them, Help me understand X, Y, and Z. Or, I can imagine there is something beneath the surface to X, Y, and Z. I would love to know that. Or would you share with me how you prioritized X, Y, and Z? You start to get then and what you do is you honor them.
You honor them in the decisions that they’re making. And you allow them to bring that understanding so that we don’t make too knee jerk assumptions about the situation at hand. With some questions we might find the situation reversing itself and a great deal of explanation is brought to bear.
I think I, you go ahead, Katie. I think I found myself in conversations that maybe are difficult or tricky. I think there’s that body language, there’s that shock and awe. Where I wanna say like, Wow, really, and like Brother Matt just said, you know, I need to be like, What? Okay, so can you explain that to me?
You know, I need to, my heart tells me, Wow, but I need to, That understanding piece of just catching yourself, assuming you don’t know, getting that emotion together and then going forward and explanation separates the emotion from the fact piece there. Very, very often, once we start to ask those questions, we get to a common ground very often if we can get to common ground.
That’s very helpful. Let me give a couple examples. If it’s an employee to employer, our employer to employee, again, don’t say why did you do that, right it puts them on the defensive, but tell me a little bit. Help me understand cuz I, I’m sure you’ve got a good reason that such and such or however you wanna say that.
And they might, at the bottom of it might get to efficiency, for example. Or they might say something about time, wise time management? Now you may disagree that that was wise time management, but time management is something you care about. Now we’re talking about something we both agree on. Or for example, is we, maybe there’s something concerning a priority that appears to be out of place in a person’s life and through, by asking questions you get a sense that that priority was placed there because they’re trying to build relationships with their children, oh, building relationships with children.
Something we can talk about. I may still disagree with their priorities or how they’re going about that, but you’ll find very often that there’s common ground, and we connect on that. The understanding versus assuming is a back and forth is what I’m hearing Brother Matt say. It’s not like a top down.
It’s not a one way, it’s a back and forth before we go on. I think you’re exactly right. What this is, we have stories we tell ourselves, and we often assume we know situations more than we really do. And if we can go through life a little bit with that, or if we’re gonna assume, let’s assume good intent, or let’s assume the best about a person, isn’t that what they would want of us?
That’s that idea of put the mirror on yourself. And so if we can walk through life with this assumption that we don’t maybe know the whole scenario, the whole situation, we certainly don’t understand everything that’s involved there. But it’s our desire to get it out on the table, so to speak, to get the stories out on the table and have dialogue about it.
What I’m hearing from you guys is it’s more about the dialogue than winning the argument. We’re not engaged in drive by correction. We come in and we just drop out our correction. We move on about our day. We’re engaged in relationship, dialogue, discussion, and seeking to really understand.
That’s a powerful mindset, I think, And we’re only two principles in here, but so far we’ve got the mindset of love. We’ve got the mindset of curiosity and seeking to understand. I think it’s just we’re, we haven’t even had the conversation yet, right? We’re just framing ourselves up to get ready to have it.
Let’s go on to the next one. Cuz I think there’s another really powerful principle to think about here, this idea of receiving and not shaming. And if you’ve joined any of our other webinars, we actually have walked through this graphic a couple different times, a couple different ways, because it’s a really big principle, I think, that’s been on our hearts here for some time about that concept of shame and what shame can do. And how do we really think about how we engage relationships with a reception mindset versus with a shaming mindset. Now, Matt, there’s a lot more to unpack here. So dig into this a little bit and how does this apply to this idea of hard conversations and love concept today?
Yeah, and let me just even for our participants, you’ve caught onto this pattern already, but in the top title there, receiving not shaming. We’re putting the skill first receiving, and we’re putting the barrier shaming on each of these slides. So that might help you organize this content.
And from this particular point, we’re just trying to take away these two words. Can we identify when we’re interacting with people on whether we are receiving them or whether we are shaming them, and allow these to guide that interaction. Now this graphic kind of explains what this looks like. So for example, somebody has the courage to be vulnerable or you’ve got vulnerability that might be called out on the carpet, they made a mistake, and in the business place they made a mistake and we need to talk this through. That’s a very vulnerable moment and nobody likes to be exposed for the mistakes, right?
Or, they made a personal relationship where there’s something concerning. Bringing that element out is vulnerable, if it’s somebody’s priorities that are not in the right place and you feel passionate about that, or they’re in a dangerous place to call that out is a place of vulnerability.
And we have to acknowledge the difficulty of being vulnerable to being laid bare, to being called out. And, so we honor a person by love. I love, that example of Noah when he sinned, when he was drunk and all that. And a couple of his sons covered him up and the one son mocked him and he was disciplined. God disciplined, and the other two sons covered him up. And it’s an honor, honor people by honoring their exposure. And that’s something that we can always do in every situation. And so we embrace that if we don’t honor that exposure, we can shame them.
And that, as you can see there on the right hand side of the graph is going to lead to an unhealthy withdrawal. That person will withdraw into isolation. They’ll withdrawal into, I’m never coming out. I’m never gonna speak up at meetings anymore. I’m not going to, I’m just gonna stay under the radar.
All right? So that’s what’s at stake here with shaming. But let’s go to that healthy route of reception. If we can receive the vulnerability, okay, receive that sacred space of exposure. And that reception doesn’t mean that we say the wrong. We, don’t condone whether it’s sin or whether it’s mistakes.
It’s not like we’re condoning it and saying it doesn’t matter, but we’re just, what we do is we are honoring the exposure of it, knowing that that was difficult. And what you do is you receive that person to possible healthy action. And Jesus did this over and over and over with people. Let’s just take one classic example.
The woman caught in adultery. The Pharisees and the leaders, they went the right way. They exposed her sin, shamed her. And you can tell she was cowering on the ground as best that I can read the story. I have her pictured on the floor, Brother Matt means the right way as in the direction, right on this graphic.
Yes. The right, Yes. Thank you very much. The right flow chart, right? What Jesus do, Jesus does the left flow chart and he honors her exposure and receives her onto his team and looses her to possible good action. And that’s how we see sofa can place two different images in your mind as we think about difficult questions is how in this moment can I receive them and not shame them?
And that reception is one by communicating to them that I want you on our team. Yeah, and I think that makes sense in the employee employer situation. I think that makes sense in the family situation as well. Yeah, it makes sense. Go ahead, Arlan. I was gonna say, and I think you can think about this as far as like verbal wording and how you say things to them.
But I’ve also, and I was gonna ask you this, Katie, I bet there’s just even the nonverbals too. This idea of receiving versus shaming can really speak to just how nonverbally we approach these harder conversations. So, speak to that what are some nonverbal, appropriate ways to show receiving or reception.
Yeah, receiving someone or when I am received, thinking back to the introductory comment, When I am received, I am felt heard. The person is making eye contact with me, is leaning towards me, is loving who I am, versus if you look to the right of this graphic, not the action, so the person versus the action here.
Some good nonverbals are just like open arms, not arms crossed. The eye contact piece is huge in my mind as far as receiving someone, receiving the conversation. I think often we can instantly put the action to the person. We tie it to the person. And, Brother Matt just went through a little walkthrough of how to separate out the action versus the person in that reception using Christ as a great example there.
Christ and the Pharisees knew the action of the woman caught in adultery. They both agreed on that. They very much disagreed on how to receive her to health, how to receive her as a soul, how to receive her as a person. He went towards her. They shunned her. Body language wise, their voices were raised.
It was fairly impassioned, and so just those tones, all of those pieces, I would say, speak to that example. And our examples, church lunch conversations, right? You see somebody in the community, those types of things. I’m even thinking, do you talk down to someone? Do you stand while they’re sitting or do you get down to their level and just lean in, like you said, and have that conversation like you would to a friend or to someone you really care about?
I think our nonverbals have a huge impact into whether someone is gonna feel received or whether they’re gonna feel shamed. Yeah, even how we interact with kids and our children and that kind of a thing. All of that matters, I think, as we frame up how do we set up the setting to have these conversations.
Recently I was blessed to have a conversation with a sister in church, public setting, lunch table, lots of people around. But I knew this conversation needed my full attention. I knew this person needed to be received well and so just turning my shoulder, you know, we’re sitting at the horseshoe chairs in our traditional setting and just turning my shoulder towards her.
Did I turn my shoulder away from someone else? Then likely, yes I did. But my intention, my heart, going towards her and making her not feel shamed, I needed to receive her, and that was my body towards her, my eyes engaged with her. It sent a message likely to others potentially, but it sent a message definitely to the sister.
Yeah. I think one thing too that we need to bear in mind is sometimes we place so much stock in the moment of the conversation. This particular shame in receiving has a lot to do with that initial conversation, but it almost has more to do with the follow up and the ongoing relationship with that person.
And I think we have to keep that in mind too as we engage in these conversations that it’s not done at the conversation, but it’s proven out afterwards. And let me illustrate it this way, Katie, you mentioned separating the person from the issue, and in some it’s gonna be real important after the conversation, does that person see, let’s say it’s a poor computer programming project.
And, does my boss who had this hard conversation with me, see me only as a poor programmer? Is that my disposition towards him from that day forward? Or does my supervisor see me as a person who’s funny, who loves to hunt? Who’s got a great family, tremendous skills, and this other thing, and needs some help and support for his computer programming.
Yeah. Those are wildly different scenarios and that’s all proven out after the conversation and we have an opportunity to do that. In the classroom, I would try, if I knew that I was gonna have to say hard things, I tried to have a joke or two ready to go after I was done so they could see that I was separating what I just said from them and my appreciation for them.
So sometimes some of our preparation, is to follow up. What am I gonna do after this? Yeah. And I like that context of the idea of separating out the issue from the individuals. They may do bad things but it doesn’t mean they are a bad person at the core.
Right. And with a mutual respect mindset where I wanna respect them as an individual at the core, just like I want myself to be respected, like an individual at the core, really frames up our posture, I think, into this setting in a good way. Let me go onto the next one, which is similar, but it brings a different nuance.
And Matt, you’ve already alluded to this a little bit with this story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery and the concept here is empowering, not exploiting. And really it’s speaking to this idea of power dynamics and the ability we have, depending on the relationship, but the ability we have to really help someone move towards flourishing, or really stuff them down or really push them into a little corner somewhere.
And so with that woman, here’s his classic phrase that he shares. He says, Neither do I condemn thee go and sin no more. He’s not soft on the sin. He says, you need to not sin anymore. Here’s the truth part, but here’s the love part. I’m receiving you in the midst of this and not shutting you out of relationship because of something that you have done.
And in this case, I think we can maybe make the assumption there was a repentance about it or there was a desire to improve from that, which I think is an aspect of that. But, there’s more to be said here. So empowering, not exploiting. What are some ideas or principles that come out, examples that you may have of this scenario?
I think the key to this particular nuance is power. The capacity to act. An exploited person, let’s put a little definition around exploit, exploitation or exploiting people because that might be a little convoluted. Exploiting people is people with no power. They’re completely exposed and vulnerable for faults and whatnot or need, but are at a powerless place to do anything about it.
Those are exploited and we need to be careful not to exploit people. And so this is all about ability to act. I’m gonna give two examples. Arlan, you asked for example, I’m gonna two examples out of a life of Jesus with rich men. Two rich men engaged with Jesus. They both had a need. One was Zachaeus and one was the rich young ruler.
Jesus has, you would imagine, a confrontation of some point, one is in Zachaeus’s house and the other one is along the road, if I understand it right. Each man reacted differently, but notice that Zachaeus felt empowered and he felt empowered enough that he was going to repay his debt and, with some extra. You can tell that his interaction with Jesus exposed his need and he was left at a powerful place.
He had a place with a capacity to do something, and the rich young ruler was given that chance as well, come and follow me. That’s what Jesus said, Here’s your chance to be powerful, to be, to act. And, he rejected it. So we can’t judge whether this was done right necessarily on a person’s reaction.
People react however they’re going to react. But have we allowed and empowered people to a path forward? Do we allow them, and that’s part of what we need to be creative about as well, is how do we communicate that action towards flourishing. Yeah. I think there’s a lot to that, Matt. My mind goes here quickly to, again, when I was in the classroom, and there you have power dynamics and authority and all that goes along with that.
Just like an employer, employee scenario would be. Do we care for the whole person and provide them with a way out or a way towards flourishing? Are we trying to lift them up to a better place or are we just trying to correct behavior and change behavior? Because that’s what we, I mean, it might be.
The behavior might need to be corrected, but sometimes I can easily get into this idea of almost just like I’m gonna just exert my authority, my power, win the argument, carry the day as opposed to really trying to care for the individual and move them on to that better place. And a lot of that is centered around this idea of empowering them with help them see the vision for a better way and maybe give them a way out is maybe at least the vision that’s in my mind.
Real briefly, before we go on to the next mindset, as you we’re talking, and if I , look at the list of colors on here, there’s a, variety of businessmen potentially on here. There’s a variety of public positions. There’s definitely spiritual leadership positions here. And when I think of public voices, spiritual leaders, businessmen, so forth, I think often because of certain positions, Matt mentioned that before, there is gonna be a propensity for the people we steward, shepherd, employ, students. All of us on this screen right now, the three of us are teachers by degree.
There’s levels where that person underneath us, whether a hierarchy, biblical order, whatever it may be, is going to enter into conversations with us, thinking they’re gonna correct me, they’re gonna shame me. This isn’t gonna go well. And just being aware of that, whether it’s a business situation, employer or employee, whether it’s a spiritual shepherding, pastor, leadership, a public voice, we have the opportunity to love through that leadership position and to use that.
To use that in those examples that Matt spoke to the Zachaeus example, the rich young ruler example with the umbrella of love. And so I think oftentimes we have our best interests at mind. And why did they think I meant that. Well, they’re coming in with, there’s a hierarchy in their mind.
Public, private, spiritual. We’re above them, so we just need to be sensitive to that empowering versus exploiting position that we potentially may hold. You know, Psalms just, I’ll let you go, Matt, but Psalm says, withhold not good to them who it’s due, when it’s in the power of your hand to give it.
I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Whenever we can give good or praise or encouragement, it allows us to expand those power dynamics to be more than just correction. They’re also about empowering and encouraging and that kind of thing too. Go ahead Matt, if I could. No, I’ve got a story that I think, um, shows a really bad example of this out of my own life, and it was with a student but I think it illustrates an important point, and that is, in these moments of difficult conversations and whatnot, power is going to happen somehow.
And, so let me just say you have to, giving a person a corner to retreat to is really, really important. Allowing them, because what you can do is you can render them so powerless, exploiting them, and that power could come out in a very nasty way. It’s like it needs to release somewhere.
Let’s release it towards flourishing. So the student that I had this interaction with and I recall it and learned a powerful lesson where I basically exploited him to the point where he had no choice. He had no choice but to come subservient. Really? So what did he do? He picked up his desk and threw it across the room.
And in that moment, I learned that when you interact with people, you have to give them a place for that power and action to go in a healthy way. And you have to give them a corner to retreat to. And it’s honoring a person’s choice.
And if we don’t. It can come out in nasty ways. It’s gonna come someplace. It’s going somewhere. Ideally they don’t throw a desk across the room. But so all of us right now are not gonna shame Brother Matt’s action. We are going to receive it and be thankful he shared that.
Cuz all of us, if you’re a teacher on right now, you likely have examples of that. So we are, desk thrown at you probably. Hopefully not quite that. Let’s go on to the next one here. We’ve got one more principle and then we’ll just do some wrap up here. So here is the story from Philemon and it’s this idea of appealing versus commanding or beseeching, I think is another word that sometimes used or is that appealing?
Let me read the Scripture. And then we’ll get into it. Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. That’s the NIV version there. Speaking to this idea, instead of commanding or directing in a very strong manner, there is this if we can get to it, this option of pulling alongside someone, calling them to your side, beseeching them and saying, Out of love, would you do this for me or would you consider this?
Which I think is a really, really powerful word picture to consider. Now, I’m guessing, all of us would agree, there’s times when you, there’s a command to be given, right? If the house is on fire, you don’t beseech them to leave, the command goes out there. But usually at least I’ll speak for my life.
Usually I create crisis scenarios in my head because of those stories I’m telling myself that probably aren’t as bad as they really are in real life and I need to be more patient and willing to work relationship. And this idea of appealing with someone or beseeching someone. Now speak to that and feather that out a little bit more.
Matt, you go first and then Katie. Yeah. If you look at appeal, or beseech, as it’s translated in the English language really comes from the Greek word, perakaleo, and it’s to call to the side, which is a really nice word picture coming alongside somebody. That’s what Paul wanted to do with Philemon.
He wanted to come alongside, he knew what he wanted to see happen in terms of Onesimus and such, but he decided not to command what he could have and instead to make this appeal, to call to the side. And I think it’s important for us to recognize that appealing is very inefficient, it’s not efficient.
It takes time, investment. And let’s be honest, some of the decisions, some of the conversations we have, we don’t have time on our side. And so we do lend ourselves, perhaps to commanding, to being top down. But, if I could even redeem that, how can I appeal in a commanding way?
Sometimes it works this way, I give a childlike example. Or with children you might say, listen, we’re gonna come back to this because you very well may have some good points, but this weekend it’s gonna look like this, but I really, let’s work this out. This is not my final say on this particular issue.
Can we do it this weekend? What you’re doing is you are still being time effective, and you are being clear about what needs to happen, but yet the person understands that this isn’t the final verdict and the edict forever. And I, think we do this in a lot of ways.
Some of us right there, when Matt said appealing, is inefficient. Our hearts maybe just stopped right there. We’re thinking about time, we’re thinking about what that means. Like it’s a coaching opportunity is what Matt’s saying. It’s a coaching opportunity. He used children, and such. It takes time, to his point earlier about follow up.
This is not a one and done, this is not a check off my list thing. Certain actions, certain situations lend itself towards that. But hearing the heart here of Philemon, you have to think that he was coaching through this Scripture and encouraging, and it was not a one and done and a check off his to-do list.
Most of our relationships are more marathon, right? They’re more long term, especially, family, employees, hopefully that kind of a thing. And, it is different if we go in with that mindset and back to those principles of love and care and receiving. And then that’s a natural outgrowth where we lean more upon this loving appeal versus the more powerful dynamic.
Let’s go on to the last slide here. And then, if there is a formula, this is the closest thing to a formula that we have. But it is this idea of, how do we get into this? So let’s say you’re gonna have a hard conversation or navigate into a hard conversation with someone.
What could that look like? So I’ll walk through it. Then I want you guys to color commentary on it. But this idea that we begin with affirming and validating, right? You start with that love aspect, that mutual respect for this person. I love them and I care about them, and I’m gonna validate that.
I’m gonna state that, even to the, and you’ll be sincere. The worst thing you can do is just fake it and say that you’re gonna burn a lot of good grace there. But be sincere with this idea that, I really do love and I care about them.
I confirm that love with them, and then I’m gonna get into this area of need. Because of that love, I’m going get into that area of need. But if you notice there, it’s a seeking to understand. It’s a curiosity mindset. It’s staying clear on the issue at hand and staying focused on the issue at hand.
And I think sometimes our tendency can be, if we’re not careful in those situations, to pile on, especially if we’re an avoider. Suddenly then you’ve got a list of seven things that you wanna talk about as opposed to the one or the one thing that we can crystal clearly walk through in a very focused way.
Sometimes we have to redirect the conversation back because it gets distracted or a person might defensively, and just lovingly call it back to what that is. But then this last piece here is really important, is that at the end you leave with hope or I think that corner to retreat into, or that greater truth.
That, of love and affirmation that you have for them and that God has for them, that bigger purpose. So now I went through that in a minute and a half. There’s more pieces, right? So speak to some of those things that stand out to you as you think about how could we share negative feedback in this manner.
Katie, do you have thoughts? Yeah, I was just gonna say, so looking at this list, when I think of my own conversations, staying focused on what you’re talking about and not distracting, detracting, even if perhaps the conversation detracts it’s natural detraction and maybe there’s a laughing moment or a hand on the shoulder in the, something that would maybe potentially detract it.
Just stay focused and, So if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying all of those adage, communication pieces, to affirm what they’ve said to clearly communicate and just to stay focused. My propensity is probably not to stay focused. And so, that helps me know what area I need to engage and remain.
And then just to continue some of those closing comments of loving the person, disappointed at the action. Just using Jesus as our model from Scripture is powerful. And he did it so often and so frequently, with a variety of ages and a variety of settings with really, really difficult conversations.
This template really comes right out of Philemon. I think this is Paul’s formula for Philemon that we can follow in that particular letter, which I think is excellent. Something that this is always, I think, challenges me is when Paul confirmed his love towards Philemon, he did it in no uncertain terms.
He says, I make mention of thee always in my prayers. What a high standard powerful person I’ve gotta have a conversation with. I just can’t say that very often, right? So what does that mean? What does that do? That now puts me into prayer. How then can I confirm my love to this particular individual, right?
How can I communicate that in a way that’s not uncertain at all? And I think that’s really, really challenging. I’d have to say Philemon was able to listen to the hard message because of that. And then when he did, I’m not sure what the interaction between Philemon and Paul was, but he does say, I would like to know your mind at one point in the letter.
And so, I’d have to believe that there was some back and forth between Philemon. This was not just maybe a monologue or a one-sided conversation. And so he did engage that understanding. And then, so, anyway, it’s, I think really said well and demonstrated well in the letter to Philemon that we have, encased in the canon of Scripture.
Yeah, my mind goes to this idea, like I said there a little bit too, but I think there is a principle of regular ongoing checkup conversations or regular ongoing conversations, which only really are gonna happen with someone if you care about them, if you love them. Often I think the stories we build in our minds about others and what they do and the situations and stuff often emerge out of absence of relationship because we’re not with them enough or we don’t spend enough time together. And, so sometimes those regular, ongoing relationships conversations can help from making it just a once a year. Here we go. We’re gonna let ’em all have it in the next 35 minutes and really take care of everything.
We’ve got my list here. It speaks to a very different mindset that really challenges me to go back to think about how do I view others and how do I view my relationship with them. We are coming up to the top of the hour and want to be mindful of that. So we walked right through our content here without much time for questions.
I did not see any chatted in. If there’s a burning question, we can stick on here for another minute or two if someone wants to ask it. Otherwise I’m gonna ask for any last thoughts, Matt and Katie, that you might have?
I really don’t. It’s a privilege to be on. Just as I would want someone, I think, to bring it to the intro statement. I would want someone to love, understand, receive, empower, appeal to Katie Miller. I need to do the honor and respect of doing those skills to someone else as well.
And bring the mirror back onto ourselves and then treat others in that same way. That’s powerful piece. So you’ve got your skills and your barriers in front of you here. That handout will be available on the website to look at more and more. And if there’s questions or if this stirred your mind in certain directions, encourage you, feel free to send us an email with ideas.
We love ideas for more webinars to be done and for places to continue to build out this conversation. But our heart and our prayer is that by this, by God’s grace, speaking that truth in love, gently, lovingly, framing ourselves up, seeking to understand in a receiving mind with a desire to empower and appeal to people, to individuals, we can grow to that more settled place.
We can leave the unsettled and move into that settled. And so may God bless you as you walk into that. Thanks for being here today. Thank you. Thank you all.