“The Hard Stuff”

Have you ever had to say “the hard stuff” to someone?  You know the stuff I am talking about – the painful things that people do not want to hear but the things that must be said.

In Gordon MacDonald’s book Building Below the Waterline he talks about Pastors saying the hard stuff.  This chapter is one of the greats in the book because it talks about something that you do not learn about in seminary or bible college or really anything that is talked about too much in life in general but that is needed.  MacDonald talks about people pleasers which he was one back when he was a young pastor and was too sensitive to hear “the hard stuff”.  He also talks about a time when he shared “the hard stuff” in a message without doing his homework.  MacDonald then goes on to  talk about how Paul had to say some pretty “hard stuff” to say to the church in Corinth.  He then goes on to then say that the if you are going to say “the hard stuff” you have to be on sold ground.  He ends the chapter with a story about when he had to say some pretty “hard stuff” directly to a congregation.

When I think of saying “the hard stuff”,  I will many times in my mind go back to when I worked in the counseling field and had to say some pretty hard stuff to people but really that was part of the job.  Then my mind bounces to my years of ministry and looking into the eyes of people and having to say some pretty “hard words”.   I have also preached some messages with some pretty “hard stuff” in them.  It is never easy to share the “hard stuff” whether it is in counseling, ministry, or in preaching.

One time – many years ago – I had to say some of the hardest stuff I ever had to say especially to parents.  I was a young Youth Pastor and was being mentored by a Senior Pastor who was more than just a boss but a real friend.  He is a good and godly man and I have great respect for him because of how he taught me to deal with “the hard stuff”.  When I shared with him in our weekly mentoring meeting  something that I overheard at a youth group event he said we needed to do hard thing which was that we needed to talk to the parent of the one it was said about as soon as possible.  We prayed together about and the then he called the parents and set up a meeting with them.  The next day I went with the Pastor to the house of the teen and met with the parents and had to tell them that I have heard that their child was involved in a horrendous sin.  We then talked directly to the teen and let them know what was being said and the teen denied it that day.  Sad thing is about 6 months later they told their parents it was true and walk away from God to a lifestyle that broke their parents heart. 

Saying “the hard stuff” is never easy and so in order to be able to say it  I think we would do well to follow the advice given by MacDonald in the book (pages 149 and 150).  First is get your facts straight and ask if “the hard stuff” really needs to be said.  Second is have a deep prayer life that is operating out of love and not one to punish.  Third is making sure that it is being said with deep affection and priestly concern for the person.  Lastly, make sure that when you are saying “the hard stuff” that you are not under the same judgment.

So how do you handle saying “the hard stuff” to people?  What is the hardest thing you ever had to say to someone?

This post is a part of the blogging on  the book Building Below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald with two of the best bloggers out there – Bill Grandi from  Cycleguy’s Spin and Michael Perkins from The Handwritten .  We are sharing each Wednesday our thoughts from 2 chapters,  which means you will be able to see how God will l speak to us as individuals and then you if you read all three blogs you will see how God then weaves what we write all together.  I pray your are encouraged by the blogs.

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2 thoughts on ““The Hard Stuff”

  1. So glad you touched on this Jim. i took the easy way out. :) I left the hard stuff to you. Like Gordon, I struggled early on (and still do to some extent) with the hard stuff. It is one of those things i know but practicing is another story. I ached as I read your story of confrontation and then to see it come to fruit 6 months later. Oh man, that had to be heart-wrenching. Glad you wrote on this today.

  2. That just breaks my heart. I’ve been there too. The hardest thing was when someone tried to hold their tithe over my head, by threatening to send it somewhere else. I told them that it was God’s money and they should do what they felt led to do.

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