Hard conversations are not easy and certainly take thoughtful consideration to be meaningful and effective. Understanding the art and science of having hard conversations begins with the conviction and motivation to have it in the first place.
One of the most common crossroads I encounter when counseling those dealing with anticipating a hard conversation is helping them “want to want” to have the conversation. Of course, I empathize—you would have to be spiritually masochistic to enjoy the possibility of an uncomfortable conversation. Hard conversations range the spectrum from awkward moments to unwelcomed confrontations. However, there is a crossroad of conviction that we must navigate to compel ourselves to pursue something unlovely with genuine love. Let’s consider a few of the compelling reasons and practical considerations for having the hard conversation.
1. We Have a Responsibility to One Another (1 Cor. 12:16; Heb. 3:12-14)
A foundational motivation towards having a hard conversation is a sincere concern about the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The belonging we share in Christ compels our love to move towards those in need of insight or care. These moments are not always welcomed or easy. The difference between immaturity and immorality can be difficult to discern in understanding people and their problems. The motivation to move toward one another is a familial-based motivation moving beyond friendship and collegial niceties. Belonging that is mutually dependent and interrelated is the blessing of the redeemed household of God.
2. We Have the Ability to Live in the Truth (Col. 3:1-4, 16-17; Rom. 12:1-3)
The defining characteristic of the transformational work of the gospel is our ability to live in the truth. Our hearts are prone to deception because of our sin, but the renewing of our minds, according to the Word and the Spirt, brings the capacity to both understand and live in the truth. The recognition of reality is a sobering task, but the gospel reframes and always gives pathways with eternal hope. Living in the truth of the gospel (as applied to the realities of the human experience) does not remove the harsh realities of life. Still, it does categorically and practically give perspective and pathways to living rightly with confidence and hope. Having a hard conversation is not simply addressing hardships but pursuing hope and help to live rightly in the truth.
3. We Have a Calling of Gospel Witness (1 John 4:11-12; John 13:35)
How we live matters. The truth of Scripture is visible not only in the pages of God’s Word but in the actions of our lives. Pursuing one another through the challenges of hard conversations to live rightly before God and others is counter-cultural. When the church displays unity within an immense diversity of cultures, personalities, and life experiences, it proclaims the transforming work of our reconciliation with God and one another. Moving towards one another through hard conversations is motivated not primarily by interpersonal health but the testimony of the gospel.