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The False Peace of Complacency

10-17confrontation

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

Confrontation is not my default mode. Over the years, however, I have learned to resist my natural tendency to avoid it. While I would like to believe that I am maintaining the peace by not confronting, my real motivation is more likely maintaining my personal comfort!

During my business career, I have met some very successful marketplace leaders who seem to have a “gift of confrontation.” Whether in fact this ability is a gift (a “confrontation gene” so to speak) or a learned skill, some leaders are very good at constructive clashes. In fact, a strong case could be made that this ability is crucial to peacemaking, both at the office and at home. Moreover, it applies not only to when one confronts others but also to when others confront us.

In my experience, many marketplace leaders who are followers of Jesus are confrontationally-challenged. One reason may be an incorrect understanding of the following statement by Jesus: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Some seem to think this means that a passive, “don’t rock the boat” approach is the best way of pleasing Jesus. However, the peace resulting from complacency is counterfeit. In fact, confronting others can often lead to real lasting peace as issues are resolved and clarity regarding future expectations is established.

Actually, Jesus was the “confronter extraordinaire.” He didn’t mince words! He fearlessly confronted people concerning their hypocrisy and his speech was anything but polite or nuanced. Jesus’ views on peacemaking differed greatly from typical humanistic views. His approach to peacemaking includes at least three confrontational commands that apply to both our professional and personal lives:

  1. He commands His followers to lovingly confront everyone they meet with the good news; i.e., reconciliation with God is available to them by trusting in Jesus and His sacrifice on their behalf. As a result, they can enjoy relationship with the only One who can bring them true and lasting peace. [Matthew 28-19-20]
  1. He commands His followers to confront others with truth spoken in love. As long as our motives are based upon God’s love for others, we should confront rather than avoid. [Ephesians 4:15]
  2. He commands His followers to confront everyone they meet with love in action. This notion includes words and actions that demonstrate Jesus is alive today. These are “the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do.” [Ephesians 2:10]

Here is a threefold logic sequence for those of us who are followers of Jesus: (i) During His earthly ministry, Jesus actively confronted people because of His love for them; (ii) we are called to imitate Jesus in everything we say or do; and therefore (iii) we are called to lovingly confront everyone with the truth.

Question: In both my professional and personal life, am I known as a complacent avoider or a confrontational lover?

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.