No one has ever accused the Drill Sergeant of pulling punches. If I think someone’s wrong (or if I think I’m right), I have no problem wading into difficult conversations. Over the years, I’ve done that well and I’ve done it poorly. And I’ve never shied away from getting scrappy with my senior pastor.
Here are a few battle notes I’ve taken along the way:
• No matter how tactfully and perfectly worded a confrontation might be, sometimes it’ll go south. Some people don’t deal with push-back very well. Others aren’t built for combat or don’t embrace candor. That’s why you must include grace, honor, and love as primary ingredients in the conversation.
• A well-placed grenade is usually more productive than a hundred unseen landmines. Assumptions are conversation killers, so don’t assume your senior pastor knows how you feel or identifies with your thoughts. Just pull the pin and throw the grenade. When the dust settles, you’ll probably end up having a better conversation than if you’d just expected your pastor to tip-toe through bombs you’d placed below the surface.
• Dirty bombs never accomplish the purpose. If you expect to gain any traction in a conversation, the grenade you throw can’t be filled with radioactive material. Don’t bring multiple frustrations to the table or make accusations. And [tweet_dis]never toss the bomb and walk away[/tweet_dis], leaving your pastor bleeding as you stand at a safe distance.
• You’ll win more battles when you choose them wisely. I used to itch for a fight. I had opinions about everything and thought everyone needed to hear those opinions all the time. Then a good friend told me, “Darren, the more you talk, the less people listen.” I’d been very naïve, so that really took me aback. How could anyone not want to know what I had to say? Yet when I started assessing how important certain battles were to me, I realized my friend was right. If I leveraged my ideas only when they were most important to me, I’d make a lot more progress.
• Self-sacrifice might be necessary. That’s a hard truth to accept. But occasionally you have to decide if getting into a particular conversation is even worth it—and by “it,” I mean your job, your reputation, your security, and other important stuff.
Hard conversations are…hard. So have them well.