By Rob Hurtgen
I don’t like hard conversations. I don’t know many people who do. However, if you’re entrusted to lead any sized organization, you can’t avoid having hard conversations. Nor should you.
We see hard conversations in the Bible. Three young men spoke firmly by refusing to bow to the king (Daniel 3). Nehemiah had a hard conversation with Sanballat and Geshem (Nehemiah 6:3). Paul confronted Peter (Galatians 1:14).
These texts tell us hard conversations can be great opportunities. Here are three things edifying things that can come out of them.
1. Hard conversations challenge the way you think about issues.
Discussing matters with others who you agree and disagree with helps you frame the way you think about topics. Sometimes your viewpoint is affirmed and more clearly defined. Other times, your thinking is changed by the discussion.
When you discuss difficult issues with others, it helps you to think through the complexities of those subjects.
2. Hard conversations enable you to define what matters most.
For Nehemiah, completion of the wall was too important of a task to stop. In Nehemiah’s hard conversation, he was partly saying this wall was too important to stop and answer your request. He was defining what mattered most.
Paul clarified what was most important by confronting Peter and his harm the gospel by an inconsistent life.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood by their convictions to only worship the Lord and refused to bow to the king. Hard conversations forge the opportunity to define what matters most to you.
3. Hard conversations force clarity of actions.
Similar to defining what matters most, hard conversations force you to develop well-defined action steps—what you’re going to do and not do.
Nehemiah serves as a tremendous example of a hard conversation defining his actions. When he was invited to come off of the job site and be entertained by Sanballat and Geshem, he saw through the rouse of the invitation.
But he also acted on his clear conviction, saying, “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”
Nehemiah’s response was driven by being clear on the issue and firmly rooted his convictions. He then acted on the same.
When we’re forced to have hard conversations, they clarify our thinking, confirm our convictions, and enable us with the courage to act on those same principles.
Often, we avoid hard conversations. They’re uncomfortable. They make us uneasy.
But healthy, hard conversations can be opportunities for God’s great and marvelous will to be revealed and followed.
ROB HURTGEN (@robhurtgen) is the husband to Shawn, father of five, pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri, and doctoral student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also blogs at robhurtgen.wordpress.com.