Admonishing with Love and Preparation
In a previous blog, I was thinking about our responsibility to admonish one another based on our history of loving that person. While it might not take much planning to prefer, support or comfort someone, admonishing is different. Scripture reminds us that we should admonish carefully. “Correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim. 4:2)
We should consider issues such as:
· Does this person indeed need to be admonished?
· Am I the right person to do it?
· When would be the best time?
· Does this person know that I love him?
There are some guidelines and precautions that I have learned to consider before admonishing someone. Make sure we are not guilty of the same problem. (Matt. 7:3-5) We really need to search our own hearts to see if there is anything the Lord wants to admonish in us before we’ll have the confidence to minister to others.
- Make sure the admonition is based on scripture, not on personal beliefs or opinions. Don’t be heavy handed with God’s word. Be gentle and subtle about introducing scripture into a tense conversation.
- Pray for the person and yourself before you act. The prayers may change the person without the need for confrontation. Pray that the person will be open to you and that your motives are pure.
- Pray about the right time and place to approach the individual. The Bible says there is a proper time for everything, including a “time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Eccl. 3:7) Our basic guideline should always be – What time and place is best for the individual? What will make her most comfortable?
- Approach the person privately. She should be the first to hear of the matter, not our other church friends.
- Our actions should be properly motivated… because we love the person… not because we have thoughts of revenge, anger or the desire to humiliate. The end result of admonishing should be that someone is better equipped for kingdom business.
- People are generally sensitive, and we should admonish gently. Emotionally, we need to be calm so that we craft our words carefully and tactfully.
- Be clear, accurate and thorough. Try to condense the admonition into one or two statements, don’t exaggerate and discuss the entire issue so that it doesn’t have to be revisited later.
- When we admonish someone, we should be willing to advise them what to do, how to do it and, if possible, journey with them through the process. As we problem solve with them according to God’s word, we can be part of the restoration process.
- Be careful not to be influenced by the person or his sin. Sometimes we don’t need to discuss the details of a situation. Just stick to the general problem lest we may also be tempted. (Gal. 6:1)
- Subsequent to admonishing someone, continue to reassure him of your love and commitment to a healthy relationship.
- Be careful not to administer shame or condemnation. Address the action without denigrating the person.
- Realize that initially admonishments may hurt the person, but that in the end he will benefit and the relationship will be strengthened. Paul realized that, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11)
While this list of guidelines may be long, the well-being of those we love should not be taken lightly during times of admonishment. It may well be the case that it will be our turn to receive admonishment, and we would want our loved one to be so prepared. So, how does God prepare us to receive admonishment? Let’s mull that over next time.
Don McMinn, Ph.D. (with Kimberly Spring)
Executive Director of theiPlace.org
The 11th Commandment: Experiencing the One Anothers of Scripture