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When you are afraid to confront...

How to overcome the fear of confrontation

I don't know about you, but I just can't relate to confrontational people.  You know, the kind of people that seem to thrive on confrontation!  I would say I am the complete opposite of that, and I would venture to say, a majority of people fall in that camp.  Instead, most people I believe are afraid to confront.  So just how do we overcome the fear of confrontation? 

CONFRONT - face a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, or to say something to someone about something they have done that bothers you.

I'm sure just reading the word confront and its definition can bring about discomfort and anxiety.    The times in my life where I've had to confront a loved one over something they have done, I end up rehearsing what I am going to say over and over again.  My stomach fills with butterflies, and I become extremely anxious to the point that if I don't follow through sooner than later with my plans to discuss the concerning matter, I can't function because I am so preoccupied.  Preoccupied with all the "what ifs".  What if they refuse to listen?  What if this damages our relationship?   What if this does more harm than good? What if I've got this all wrong?

When you are afraid to confront your children...

When my children were younger, I would not become apprehensive when disobedience needed to be confronted.  It was a necessary part of parenting.

Discipline your son and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
Proverbs 29:17   

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  
Proverbs 22:6

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 
 Deuteronomy 6:6-7

But something changed when my children reached 16...  I would certainly follow through with discipline, but I felt more vulnerable when the need to confront arose.  The late teens can be such a delicate age where it is possible to do more harm than good if a concerning situation is not handled properly.  As a mom, I knew I was not infallible and there were times when I would present the problem, based on appearances, but in the course of the conversation, my eldest son, in particular, could convince me that I had it all wrong, and maybe I did, but most of the time I didn't.

I was blessed with children that were for the most part obedient in their teen years.  There were only a few instances that were quite serious where "confronting the heart" was necessary.  Unfortunately, before confronting my child with the issue, I would process and go through my "what ifs?"  which wasn't accomplishing anything.  I would then finally pray for wisdom on how to handle the situation.

The Lord's wisdom taught me early on that when a serious matter needed to be discussed, He would give me the words to speak in the moment.  I also learned that it is important to speak those words with an attitude of humility and gentleness.

"But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.  
Luke 21:14-15

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare."  
Proverbs 15:1

Inevitably, the Lord would always hand to me an opportunity which led to an opening to confront the situation with gentleness and humility - to speak to the heart of the situation.  I would be in awe of how the Lord would bless the conversation and the fruit that would result.

When my son was 18, he began testing us with his curfew.  I sought the counsel of a Pastor friend asking him how I could "make my son obey the rules of the house".  His response shocked me.  He said, "You have raised him up in the fear and admonition of the Lord for 18 years. He is an adult now.  It's time to let him go."  I responded, "but Pastor, shouldn't my son still respect and honor his parents and the rules of the house??"  The Pastor responded, "He will...  You have raised him accordingly, your son will return, but you need to give him that freedom."

And the time of testing came, 1 a.m., my son was not home, 2 a.m., still not home, 4 a.m., still no sign of him...  Of course fear gripped my heart, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to sit in the living room with the light on with my Bible and read from His Word and so I did...  At 5 a.m. my son came home.  He walked past me as I sat reading my Bible.  I was calm and collected when he walked in the door.   I told him I was glad he was home safe.  He then broke down crying...  From that day forward, my son established for himself a very reasonable and responsible curfew and would always be home at an acceptable time.  Treating my son as an adult brought about the adult in him.

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.
Luke 12:48

I believe when our children become young adults they have a desire for us to trust them outside the boundaries of childhood.  When the adult child feels trusted, they will live up to that trust.

I can't promise that my experience with my son will work for everyone, but I do believe all prodigals, when they have been raised and disciplined in a Godly home AND when they are treated with respect, will return to obedience eventually.  It requires much diligence, patience and love on our part as parents.

 And let us not grow weary of doing good, 
for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galations 6:9

When you are afraid to confront, when you need to make things right...

There are also times when we need to confront someone because of a wrong we have committed; we need to make things right.   I don't know about you, but this causes much apprehension in me.  Not because I don't want to reconcile,  but because I am worried I have done irreparable harm to the relationship.

I have found myself in that position a few times in my life.  I am one of those people who has to make things right as soon as possible.

In one such instance, the person I needed to confront concerning what I had done was not ready to speak to me yet.  It seemed like an eternity before he was willing to talk with me.  I prayed that the Lord would intervene when the meeting did finally take place.  I can remember my heart pounding and my mouth being so dry as I began to apologize.  The conversation was uncomfortable at first, but then the Lord  showed His mercy by softening the heart of the person I was asking forgiveness of and blessing my repentant heart.

 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

When you are afraid to confront, seek instruction from the Lord

Unfortunately, this side of Heaven, there will be confrontations because we live in these earthly tents which yield to selfish desires, whether we are the offending party or we have been offended.  

In the Amplified version of James 3:17-18, James gives us God-breathed instructions for handling confrontation in a Christ-like manner; instructions that come with promises.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure [undefiled]; 
then it is peace loving,courteous [considerate, gentle].  [It is willing] to yield 
to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and 
straightforward, impartial and unfeigned [free from doubts, wavering, insincerity].

And the harvest of righteousness [of conformity to God's will in thought and deed] is [the fruit of  the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].

When you are afraid to confront - Let's get practical

The following practical steps gleaned from the above verses will help us to speak the truth in love and to free us from any apprehension which could prevent us from confronting the situation in the first place.

  1. PRAY - Seek the Lord in prayer asking for wisdom concerning the words to speak, the timing of the conversation, your own heart in the matter, and insight regarding the other person's perspective.  Pray for a heart that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:7  Pray to be filled with love and compassion toward the other person.
  2. BELIEVE the best in the person you are confronting.  Don't presuppose their guilt in the matter if you feel you have been offended, and don't presuppose their rejection of your heartfelt apology if you were the offender. 
  3. Hold on to HOPE that the confrontation will result in restoration and a strengthening of the relationship. 
  4. Be COURTEOUS, CONSIDERATE AND GENTLE, yielding to reason during the conversation.
  5. Be lovingly STRAIGHTFORWARD when discussing the situation not letting yourself DOUBT or WAVER. 
  6. LISTEN - Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.  James 1:19  When you take the time  to really listen as the other person responds to the case you have presented, you may gain valuable insight into what caused the offending situation in the first place.  Hearing the heart of the person will fill you with love and compassion for them.  Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, FOR LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS.  1 Peter 4:8    
  7. When we seek the PEACE of Christ through confession of our own sin in the matter, God promises that it is He who blots out our transgressions for His own sake, and He will not remember our sins.  Isaiah 43:25  When we are seeking peace with the person that has offended us we must keep entrusting ourselves to the One who judges justly.  1 Peter 2:23      
Remember, the Lord commands us to confront when we have offended.

Therefore if you are presenting at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.  Matthew 5:23-24
And the Lord commands us to confront when a person has offended us.

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense.  If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  
Matthew 18:15
Confrontation can be uncomfortable, but I know from my own experience, when I have sought the Lord in prayer and conducted myself in the manner described in James, He has blessed and restored the relationship and/or restored the person on a right path once again.

Confrontation no longer needs to strike fear in our hearts.  

We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, 
Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a 
high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  
Hebrews 4:14-16

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  
1 John 4:18

For similar posts, please click on the following:

When we seek to lovingly restore a brother OR we are seeking to be reconciled to a brother in love, we do not need to be afraid to confront or fear the outcome, because perfect love casts out fear.

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  1. Hi Karen, good to be here today.
    Confrontation is also an issue for me. I used to feel like a scared little dog with tail in between my legs when I have talk to someone about something they weren't doing right. But facing an issue is better faced once and for all.
    I love these suggestions you listed here.
    The Lord Strengthen and encourage you.
    You are my neighbor at Soul Survival today and I am glad about that!
    God Bless

    1. Hi Ifeoma, You are so right that facing an issue is better to be done once and for all.

      Praising God for His wisdom in combating fear in confrontation.

      Thank you for your kinds words. I am blessed by your visit. :-)

  2. I know I tested my parents in my teen years. And I'm very much afraid what will happen with my son. He is a tween now. And I can already see changes in him. He's not the little boy he used to be. I know it's part of growing and he will become a man one day. But it's sad to let go. I hope I have been and will be able to help him grow in God also, so that one day he will have that home forever. Even when he leaves my home one day.

    1. Joanna, God is so faithful when we train up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It doesn't mean our children won't be disobedient. (Even we as parents fall into disobedience with our Heavenly Father.) What does Paul say, "I do the things I shouldn't do and don't do the things I should". How much harder it must be for a teenager! But when we faithfully and consistently teach our children, we will reap the benefits, even in the midst of challenging times in our relationship with them.

      The Lord will bless your faithfulness. :-)

      Thank you for visiting!

  3. I've read and prayed the verses you have listed here many, many times. Proverbs 22:6 has always been perplexing to me because I've known many children who were raised in Godly Christians homes who walked away from God, never to return - my brother is one I think of. My own son, who even admits he grew up in a loving, Godly home with two loving, involved parents who disciplined him well. But he still refuses to follow the Lord and in fact is at a point where he actually ridicules Christianity. I never thought I would see something like this in the child I raised to love the Lord. Then, there are those who are raised in a Godless, angry home and grow up to be strong Christians. There is no guarantee.My pastor explained that verse once, saying that "the way they should go" means that parents who raise their child the way they were "bent" or "gifted", but I'm not sure I agree with that either. Anyways, I know I've made my share of mistakes, but I truly feel like I have, as a mother, done the things you listed as "practical steps" and have no regrets there. Just wanted to share that. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with parenting.

    1. Thank you for sharing your heart on the matter.

      If I could be of any encouragement, our Pastor shared a testimony of a man in our congregation who went down a really, really bad path for years and years. His mother prayed faithfully for him that he would return to a walk of obedience with the Lord. She died before that prayer was answered which wasn't until years later when the son accepted Christ. Her prayers and "training up" were blessed by the Lord, even though she did not actually see the fruit of her labors, much like the great cloud of witnesses spoken about in Hebrews.

      The Lord gives us peace in the mean time as He has with you knowing that "before the Lord you have done everything He has called you to do".

      I lifted up your son in prayer that He would return to the Lord.

      Thank you for sharing with me and visiting.

  4. This is a very needful and edifying post. It is always SO hard for me to face a confrontation, but we know that they are a part of life, and sometimes, as you said, they cannot be avoided in order to restore a semblance of peace. I love the advice you shared here and will do my best to remember it. God bless you for sharing what God lays upon your is such a blessing.

    1. Cheryl, Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement. :-)

      So glad you stopped by!

  5. I have a very hard time with this - I get the butterflies and pounding heart too! And it is also heart wrenching - as you said - when you are the one waiting to be granted forgiveness. I prayed for much wisdom during the middle and high school years of my eldest, who was quite the strong willed child! But confront I did, and now she respects me and understands exactly why. Thanks for sharing - such a good Biblical explanation of how to go about confrontation.

    1. Thank you for sharing your own experience.

      I appreciate your kind words.

      Thanks for stopping by! :-)


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