In previous discussions about admonishing others, we’ve talked about two important issues. If we’re going to love someone thoroughly, we must be willing to admonish if necessary. On the other hand, we must be careful how we do it.
But what if we are on the receiving end? Here are some ground rules.
Be approachable. Give permission to people close to you to speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15) Close friends should feel the freedom to come and talk to us. Realize that admonishment doesn’t usually feel good, but it is good for us. (Heb. 12:11) Even though people who admonish us may not do it just right, we should be open to what they have to say. (Heb. 12:10)
How should we respond to someone who admonishes us? These practical suggestions have worked for me.
Listen attentively to what the person is saying and how the Holy Spirit may be nudging you. Paraphrase or summarize the admonishment to verbally clarify the concerns. This ensures that both parties are on the same page. Affirm the person’s concern for the issue and thank him for being willing to discuss it. In a non-defensive manner, discuss the issue. Ask for clarification or examples. It may be necessary to politely disagree. There are usually two sides to every story! Receive the truth. Even though the content or delivery may not be 100 percent accurate, we should be willing to learn from what is said. Respond graciously to the admonition. For example…
If agreement is not 100 percent, “Thank you for taking time to visit with me. I always want to be open to what you and others want to say to me. I promise to prayerfully consider what you have said.”
If there is conviction, “Thank you for taking time to visit with me. What you have shared makes sense and I receive what you say. Pray with me and for me that I will be open to God’s work in my life.
Don’t try to deflect the focus to someone else or onto another issue.
If we are confronted about a sin issue and we are indeed wrong, to simply acknowledge the wrong is insufficient. We need to ask forgiveness. End the session with prayer. When someone correctly admonishes us, we should esteem him, not resent him. Show this respect by thanking God in prayer and reconnecting with the person in order to reaffirm the relationship.
As we have discussed the issue of admonishing others, it may come across as a big deal that requires formal preparation. While a formal meeting may be required in certain circumstances, admonishing others in a more relaxed, casual setting is often the atmosphere for this kind of communication. For me, the most important requirement is love for the other person.
Don McMinn, Ph.D. (with Kimberly Spring)
Executive Director of theiPlace.org
The 11th Commandment: Experiencing the One Anothers of Scripture