Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 30 : Go to Offenders | Day 208

Have a "Courageous Conversation"!

If we are to be successful in resolving a conflict with an offender, it is vital that we have clear, open communication. Sometimes the offense may have been a reaction to wrong attitudes and actions on our part. We must go into the conversation with a greater desire to show mercy and find truth than the desire to be right.

Each of us wants to be understood. When we don't feel we are understood, especially by those who are close to us, it is easy for little offenses to pile up and for communication to break down. We can overcome this tendency by learning to communicate effectively with those who have offended us as well as by providing an atmosphere in which others feel safe to share with us the concerns and hurts that they are experiencing.

One of the greatest communication problems is the assumption that it has taken place.

Chris Hogan has had remarkable success mediating family conflicts by using 10 key questions that help individuals have a "courageous conversation."1 Recently, a successful businessman appealed to Chris for help with his family. He knew that he had deeply wounded the spirits of his three oldest children through his anger and harsh discipline. In response, they had rejected his leadership, and he was quite sure that they no longer desired to have a relationship with him.

Chris agreed to meet with this family. At first, the teenagers slouched in their chairs, folded their arms, and glared at their father. After some discussion, the oldest daughter agreed to have a courageous conversation. She would be asked the 10 key questions, and her father would have to accurately repeat to her what she had said until she was satisfied that he understood her. He could not blame, complain, or offer any explanations during this time. Then, the same questions were asked of the father, with his daughter repeating his answers. The questions were:

  1. What is your most pressing issue?
  2. In addition to this, is there something else?
  3. How is this affecting you?
  4. What will the future be like if nothing changes?
  5. What do you see as my responsibility for this issue?
  6. What do you see as your responsibility for this issue?
  7. What does the preferable future look like to you?
  8. What is the most powerful thing we can agree to ask God for?
  9. Based on the above, what is the one thing we cannot fail to do?
  10. What practical steps must we take to make this happen?

In the process of the courageous conversation, some deep hurts from the father's childhood came to light. These hurts had affected the way he interacted with his children. The resulting tears gave the daughter hope for reconciliation. As each person was able to present his or her grievances and listen to the other's point of view, they were able to clear up the offenses and misunderstandings, and a marvelous restoration began to take place in this family.

Would those in our families say that we listen to them and understand them? Do they feel safe to approach us when an offense has occurred? Let's make every effort we can to develop "hearing" hearts by learning how to conduct courageous conversations.


1. Learn more about courageous conversations at noblecall.org.

“… If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone … ” (Matthew 18:15).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard