By Chris Ozorio
Question: How Do I Talk to a Friend Who is Making a Bad Decision?
We all want to have good friends. Most of us want to be good friends. Being a good friend can be tricky, especially when there is tension. Confrontation is not fun, but in the end can be just what is needed for someone to see what they may not see.
First, let’s address the “WHY.” Before I talk about how to talk to a friend who is making bad decisions, I’d like to address your motivations. First and foremost, are you motivated by love? Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Being a good friend requires that you act lovingly. By having a conversation with your friend about their decisions, are you loving them? Are you looking out for their best interests? Are you on their team?
It’s helpful for me to remember that though sometimes confrontation may feel like a fight, we are not fighting the ones we love, we are fighting for the ones we love. Paul talks about this in Ephesians 6:12. If we can approach our friend in love and remember we’re fighting for them, then we can actually win together!
That brings us to the “HOW.” The two things that are critical in having conversations of this nature are grace and truth. John 1:14 tells us that Jesus came full of grace and truth. If you think about it, most of Jesus’s interactions with people were Him interacting with people he loved who were making bad decisions! So let’s look at Jesus as a model here.
Being graceful in entering into the conversation means having compassion on the person you’re talking to. It also means approaching them with respect and handling them with dignity. There is no room for harsh speech, embarrassment, guilt, or shame.
Speaking truth means you bring your perspective, questions and concerns. Let your perspective be informed with God’s word, but be humble enough to be wrong. Stick to facts and don’t assume your friend’s motivations or intentions. Where things are not clear, ask.
At the end of the day, a win looks like your friend feeling partnered into healthier perspective and maybe even a change in unhealthy choices. Focus on bringing life to your friend with love, grace, and truth.