How to Find Your Way Through a Hard Conversation

As promised in my last post, “How to Kill Bitterness Before it Kills Your Heart,” I’m here today to provide a follow-up on how to have a hard conversation with an offender in our lives. 

Allow me to use the following words of Jesus as our guide for much of what I will share today . . .

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

—Matthew 7:3-5 (ESV)

When it comes to dealing with an offense, sometimes all we need to do is some prayerful self-evaluation of our own hearts. We need to take the “log out” so we can recommit to greater levels of love and forgiveness with our offender. But sometimes we need to do more. 

My last post gave you a tool for, essentially, taking the log out. But now we come to the second half of this verse—taking the speck out of your offender’s eye—by having a difficult conversation. 

Before proceeding to a conversation . . .

Prayerfully Evaluate Your Conflict in 4 Crucial Ways

(For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume the offender here is a man.)

First: How damaging is your offender’s sin against you? 

When your offender’s actions have caused significant damage to you or others and he just doesn’t seem to get the gravity of his sin, you should probably confront. 

But if your offender did not hurt you in a significant way, you might not want to confront. Instead, continue to pray and ask God to help you accept the debt he owes you like Christ took on your debt of sin (Eph. 4:32). Then train yourself to assume the positive about him, trusting your heart to the One who can truly protect it.   

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

—1 Cor. 13:7 (AMP)

Second: How regularly or continually does your offender sin against you in this way?

If your offender sinned in a less-significant way against you a long time ago and this is what you’re hanging onto, you probably do not need to have a conversation with him about it. You should, however, continue to pray and study Scripture for guidance about how to put this behind you and move forward. 

If you have clearly communicated your boundaries or expectations in a respectful way to your offender yet he continues to re-offend, then you might need to have a caring confrontation. 

Third: What are your motives for having the conversation? 

If you are more concerned about . . .

  • getting anger off your chest
  • demanding an apology
  • your offender making immediate changes
  • making your offender feel bad

. . . then you need to hold off and continue to pray for God to soften your bitter heart. 

But if you’re only hoping to rebuild the lines of communication and connection, it would be wise to make time for the conversation. 

Fourth: How self-controlled (Spirit-controlled) can you be when confronting your offender? 

If you feel the steam rising when you simply think about your offender and the hurt he caused, you are not ready for a conversation about the offense. Keep studying scriptures about anger and conflict while prayer processing through your resentments. 

But if you’ve prayed and released your bitterness to God and feel calm and prepared enough to discuss the matter respectfully with your offender, you probably should get that conversation on the docket! It sounds like you are in a very good place to respond with grace and self-control. 

How to “Take the Speck Out” and Confront an Offense

First: Take responsibility for yourself first, confessing your negative contribution.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:3-5? As believers, we must always take responsibility for ourselves first. This approach naturally sets a humble tone. It also calms your offender’s fears and dispels defensiveness. 

Besides, you have just modeled for your offender how to act graciously, which will be noted, priming his heart to do the same. (Though, this is not guaranteed!)

Second: Give the benefit of the doubt when possible.

If you are dealing with your offender’s motives, you will need to say something like . . .

“I know you probably didn’t intend to hurt me. But when you didn’t (fill in the blank), I felt rejected and dismissed.”

If you’re dealing with your offender’s words or actions, you could say something like . . .

“You probably were triggered by my bad attitude in our conflict. But when you (fill in the blank), I felt blamed and demeaned. Your words really hurt me deeply.” 

Third: Respectfully explain what you want and believe is best for the relationship. 

You could say something like . . .

“I want to put this behind us. I want our relationship to be the best it can be. I want to know that you see how this has hurt me and will work on changing the way you talk to (treat) me (or others) in the future. Can you do that?” 

You might also need to discuss very specific ways your offender could change for the better. The clearer and more measurable, the better!

Like, Please . . . 

  • consult me before making plans.
  • speak respectfully to me when we talk about hard issues.
  • ask me what I mean instead of assuming the worst.

Fourth: Accept your offender’s response or lack thereof.

You may have accepted your offender’s debt when praying to God about your bitterness. That is forgiveness! Yay for doing that! But now you are working on reconciling. 

So be patient and gracious like Christ, accepting how your offender responds rather than pushing for more. When your offender continues to resist apologizing or taking responsibility, patiently wait on God to soften his or her heart. Continue to pray for your heart to stay free of bitterness and soft to the Lord. 

Then stay open to the possibility of revisiting this conversation with your offender in the future. You might even want to enlist the help of a good, Christian or Biblical Counselor if you haven’t already.  

But if your offender responds with an apology or takes responsibility in any way, thank him! Go beyond that to say, I forgive you! And if you’re really brave tell him you love him too. 

Disclaimer: If you need to have a conflict resolution conversation with an abusive person, seek the guidance of a counselor or pastor first. Do not attempt to have a boundary conversation without this support. You could incite more abuse if you do proceed without the help and guidance of people who know how to deal with abusive individuals. If you are in an abusive situation, contact National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or their website –

I recently spoke at a Women's Day Out at Copper Creek Community Church in Maryville, Illinois on how to build and cultivate friendships. One of the main ways is to anchor your identity in Christ. If you're interested in hearing more, here's a shortened version of  "Going the Distance," the video from that special day. 

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