3. How to correct someone

NO ONE LIKE or APPRECIATE CORRECTION! This is why I give so much scriptural proof of the need for the correction! We do not progress through the necessary developmental phases of our maturity in Christ without correction! Without correction, there is no growth!

One of the greatest misconceptions is that Christians should never judge! Based on “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Mat 7:1-5) This scripture is not saying we should judge, but beware of how we judge!! If you judge a matter in a friend, family member, or a colleague from a position of pride, thinking you have no faults. You are gravely mistaken!

One needs to think about the content of the correction:
– Sins – Disobedience against the will of God.
– Transgressions – Sins against each other. (Mat 18; Luk 17)
– Iniquities – Heart distortions – sins against yourself.

Many people want to give a correction in the heat of a moment when the issue is merely their own discomfort, uneasiness, fear of change, unhappiness, different values, or moral ethic. This should be dealt with internally and individually, in prayer.

The Bible is also mindful that correction, and standing up against your enemies begin with praying for them. This removes any self-righteousness, entitlement, resentment, bitterness or offence. One cannot correct someone when your heart has not been purified from all offence.

The Bible does not say we should not judge, it warns of wrong or false judgements.

Quick Guidelines to RIGHT Judgement
  • “Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? (Luke 12:54-57)
  • Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. (1 Cor 14:29)
  • He who is spiritual judges all things, (1 Cor 2:15)
  • Cannot judge with prejudice, and pride. Mat 7:1-5  
  • Judge not according to appearance – John 7:24
  • Only judge those who are inside – 1 Corinthians 5:12
  • Judge without partiality – James 2.4
  • Judge after you have heard all the evidence – Acts 15:18
  • Correct judgment takes experience – Luke 12:54-58
  • Seek the truth – John 8:32
  • The word is our Judge – 2 Tim 3:16

Salvation is judgement. On a continual basis, we are all judged by the standard of the full measure of Christ. Salvation is the process of enlightenment, revelation and conviction that the Holy Spirit works in one’s heart. Biblical judgement is thus not shadow-boxing, from a distance, without making direct contact with the offender! Judgement without direct confrontation is gossip and slander. 

We all must learn to grow in Godly discernment and judgement, to conduct ourselves as His royal priesthood.  Part of the specific role of the priest was to judge matters between people.  And you shall come to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision. 10 Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place that the Lord will choose. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you. 11 According to the instructions that they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside from the verdict that they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left (Deut 17:9-11).

Jesus balance Kindness and Strictness.

Following Christ is not easy. It’s not a popular type of feel-good-about-yourself religion. It’s not an I’m OK, you’re OK thing. This is not a recipe for success and prosperity. It offers no quick fixes. It’s the hard road. It challenges us to do more than most people do. It challenges us to be children of God.

Paulo Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed makes an important case against abusive leadership or teachers where there is totalitarian action without honest reflection. When leaders impose directives even how well-intended on subjects without receiving meaningful responsive feedback it will eventually lead to a disconnect, and subjects lose enthusiasm. Subjects then either just show up, and become like robots, unresponsive, silent, distracted, on a slow-strike, low-performance type attitude. This kind of reaction cancels the original meaningful possibly positive well-intended directive, and subjects only remember the way that was spoken to not the essence of what needs to change.  Hence, no life change occurs. Leaders feel the disconnect trying even harder to impose solutions, advice, and directives without response. [1] Leadership is not domination! True leaders are enablers! When correcting someone in anger, without them certain of your love, leads to rebellion. The balance of Jesus’ strictness is His kindness to also reveal the way out. Telling someone their wrong is one thing, leading them on the path of right-living is much more difficult!

The valuable lesson we learn from Jesus’ style of leadership, He forces no one! Judgement comes in the end, and He bluntly and clearly gives visual-story-like-parable warnings of eternal impending punishment if they do not adhere or obey. (Mat 12:36; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10) Yet when Pharisees, family members, a rich young man, and the general public choose to reject the faith He released them. He never sought to overpower or impose His will on the will of a person.  In the church context, we as leaders do not own anybody. We have no rights, and we are not entitled to anything. Everything, also leadership is considered a gift from God, and a function for the benefit, healing, restoration, and well-being of all.  This well-being is centred on the person of Jesus Christ, not a leader, church, or governing board’s personal standards.

We are the best humans when we are most like Him, in doing what is right, following His ethical and moral example, cultivating His unblemished character, and giving our lives to serve humanity. Jesus is the best way to live life! His values, mindsets, habits, lifestyle, and focus are the best example of the perfect life! When we are the most like Him, we become the perfect spouse, parent, employer and employee. The Jesus life is a universal truth, a premise, blueprint and foundation for life. Christ is the perfect, blameless, right standard and median of morality. [2]

The solution is hence not to subjectivize leaders, and become a people led society or church. Leaders have to learn to conduct themselves with the wisdom of true godly parenting.

Rudolf Dreikurs taught the importance of being both kind and firm in our relations with children. Kindness is important in order to show respect for the child. Firmness is important in order to show respect for ourselves and for the needs of the situation. Authoritarian methods usually lack kindness. Permissive methods lack firmness. Kindness and firmness are essential for Positive Discipline.

Knowing when to be kind, and when to be strict seems to be the art here.  Now let’s tackle firmness. Most adults are used to thinking that firmness means punishment, lecturing, or some other form of control. Not so. Firmness, when combined with kindness, means respect for the child, for you, and for the situation.  Seeing strictness as some form of punishment, our shouting, is not what is meant here.  Kindness is a way of life, whereas strictness is about being consistent, not wavering, not being pushed around, or insecure. We are thus always kind, and always strict.

The worst time to deal with a problem is when people are upset, they access their primitive brains, where the only option is to fight (power struggles) or flight (withdraw and fail to communicate). It is not possible to think rationally when coming from our primitive brains. We say things we are later sorry for. It only makes sense to calm down until you can access your rational brain before you deal with a problem

Authoritarian (excessive control)—”These are the rules by which you must abide, and this is the punishment you will receive for violation of the rules.” Children are not involved in the decision-making process.

Permissiveness—”There are no rules. I am sure we will love each other and be happy, and you will be able to choose your own rules later.”

Authoritative (kind AND firm)– “Together we will decide on rules for our mutual benefit. We will also decide together on solutions that will be helpful to all concerned when we have problems. When I must use my judgment without your input, I will use firmness with kindness, dignity and respect. [3]

In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo tells of Jean Valjean, whose only crime was the theft of a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. After serving nineteen years, he was released from the galleys. Unable to find work because he had been a convict, he came to the home of a good old bishop who kindly gave him his supper and a bed for the night. Yielding to temptation he stole the bishop’s silver plates and slipped out, but was soon caught and returned. The kind bishop said, “Why, I gave them to him. And Jean, you forgot to take the candlesticks.” Jean was astounded at such kindness, and this brought about his salvation. A little deed of kindness can turn a sinner to the Saviour. [4]

We all know the kindness of Christ, but we miss the realization that at times He was very strict:

  • Very strict in His tone of voice: Mat 9:30; Mar 1:43; 3:12; 5:43
  • He spoke strictly and straight to Peter – Mat 16:23 
  • He curses a fig tree – Mat 21:18-22
  • He spoke directly to the Pharisees – Mat 22:18 “You hypocrites”
  • “Woe” in their presence – Mat 23:13-36

Paul also was strict at times:

  • Elymas the sorcerer Acts 13:9-11
  • Simon the magician – Acts 8:22
  • Speaking to Peter and Barnabas hypocrisy – Gal 2:13

The FEAR of God

It is also this very strictness in the bible that usher in the indispensable fear of God. Solomon taught that “through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil” (Prov 16:6; cf. 8:13). In Ecclesiastes, the whole duty of the human race is summarized by two simple requirements: “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecc 12:13). On the contrary, anyone who is content to live wickedly or defy God does so because “there is no fear of God before his eyes” (Ps 36:1-4). The fear of the Lord has a sanctifying (i.e., purifying, separating from sin, spiritually maturing) effect on God’s people, just as applying the truth of God’s Word does (John 17:17). It compels us to hate sin and avoid evil (Prov 3:7; 8:13; 16:6). It causes us to be careful in what we say (Prov 10:19; Eccl 5:2, 6-7). It protects us from weakening our consciences and our moral sensitivity toward what is right. The fear of the Lord has a spiritually cleansing, purifying and restoring effect that can last forever (Ps 19:9).

There should thus be no schism in the body of Christ between leaders and members. (1 Cor 12:25) We all stand before God poor and of a contrite spirit, trembling at His Word. (Isa 66:2)

The Bible balances the need for punishment and reward throughout scriptures Old and New Testament. When punishment is removed it leads to selfishness, when rewards is removed it leads to slavery and abuse. [5]

The Self-righteous mind

The biggest reason why we need to perfectly balance someone’s experience of our kindness before they will receive our correction is: People’s wrong beliefs are emotionally anchored and embedded into their subconscious! Even if they agree that you are right, there is no self-drive to change because their emotions and feelings of the wrong has not yet sinked in! Jonathan Haidt a moral phsycologist explains in great detail: “If you want to change people’s minds, you’ve got to talk to their elephants.” He uses the metaphor of a man riding an elephant. The Elephant speaks to the feeling, gut-feeling, emotinal, subconconcious part of a person. The rider speaks to the cognitive, reasonable, thinking part of our humanity. The mind is divided into parts, like a rider (controlled processes) on an elephant (automatic processes). Jonathan discloses interesting studies regarding the perceived morality of the democrats vs the republicans and how humanity has developed a 6-fold moral drives. These moral feelings are taught and developed over years of education, culture, religion and upbringing driving our decisions and motives, and our fears about punishment.

  1. Care/harm, 
  2. Liberty/oppression
  3. Fairness/cheating
  4. Loyalty/betrayal, 
  5. Authority/subversion,
  6. Sanctity/degradation

Not all cultures have the full 6-fold morality developed. Democrats feels strong about care/harm and liberty/oppression but do not have a problem to let the rich pay for the unemployed’s health care, For example Obama care. The repuplicans have issues about people taking adavantage of the system and not contributing towards the economy for example Trumps hard stance on immigrants. The great divide in the world is that their are no consensus on the other three moralities. [6]

John C Maxwell said: “you can make a person stand up in the outside but if they are still sitting on the inside you have accomplished nothing” This is what makes correction so difficult!

For people to be open to correction they must first be convinced of your true, kind, loving affections. Then they will trust you, open up and receive the correction. Off-course a short-cut for people to receive correction is that they trust your authority. Like when people trust a doctor, or spesialist to help them.

Conflict when power is involved.

Correction is increasingly difficult when trying to correct someone outside of these following hierachical norms.

  • Gender (Male or female dominance)
  • Age (Too young or too old)
  • Educational Background
  • Socio-economic background
  • Language and vocabulary
  • Cultural perceived stigma hierarchies
  • Hierarchy (Top down, Ego, Power abuse)
  • Knowledge and facts (Research dominance, fake-news, disinformation)
  • Within the team, with a superior, with an external part.
  • Power competition, money, promotion, influence, bribery, influence Stardom, VIPs)
  • Different or unclear agendas, goals, interests, values, politics, worldviews. 
  • Different Personalities – introvert, analytical, etc

Do’s and don’ts when dealing with a fault or perceived wrongdoing.

  1. We cannot deal with anything if we have not experienced the offence first-hand.
  2. We can never discuss anyone behind their back without them being present.
  3. We can only mediate between parties if both accept and trust the neutral mediator.
  4. No communication leads to presumption.  Allow parties to state their official position or stance concerning an issue emphatically. Beware of hearsay.
  5. Be specific, not “some people say”, use two to three witnesses. Mention exact time and place, describe an incident.
  6. Do not moralize personalities that cannot change or insult one another’s character. Stay focussed on a specific behaviour, finding context, and motive.
  7. When losing the argument do not raise your voice, improve your argument. When someone is raising their voice, it is because they do not feel heard by reiterating your version of what you understand they are saying solves the urgency.
  8. Keep yourself from childish behaviour and manipulation.  Tantrums, stamping feet, losing control, shouting, cursing, threatening.
  9. Do not generalise, using words like always, never, all, no one etc.
  10. Do not dramatize, exaggerate or minimize.
  11. Do not justify or become defensive. Instead, return an accusation with a question to listen, to clarify, or explain the context.
  12. Do not move from the point and launch a new attack.
  13. Ask permission if a private undisclosed theme can be discussed. People’s shame or embarrassment is holy ground.
  14. Always asks permission, using people’s names and revealing identities.
  15. Blocks to listening: Mind reading, judgement, interruption, advising and problem-solving, and the need to be right. Instead, ask: “Is this what you think?” or “do I understand you correctly?”
  16. Don’t defend an attack with an attack. Instead, say, “I disagree with your statement because…”
  17. Do not compare people in an argument, “You are just like those…” 
  18. The four horses of the apocalypse: Stone-Walling, Criticism, Defensiveness and Contempt.[7]  When these behaviour is already present in the relationship, it means there is an offence.  We need to free people from the trap of offence by listening, not sympathizing and then advise and support them to take action and deal with the offender.
  19. Do not interrogate. The point is to understand what the real need is about. Sometimes it is helpful to say sentences like: “Help me understand why this is so important to you. Is there a story behind that need”[8]

Me on conflicts and power relations[9]

Define “My” self-defence for example:

  • I explain too much
  • I defend my own rational too much
  • I don’t like anger (but have no problem with crying)
  • Want all people to feel good
  • Talk too much
  • Sometimes I take a conflict personally

BEWARE of these Self-defence techniques

  • Loose your sense of humour
  • Take it personally
  • Pulse goes up
  • Suddenly, I don’t understand anything; IQ-lost
  • Want to be right at any cost
  • Want to have the last word,
  • Raises the voice
  • Get very talkative to show you’re right
  • Explain endlessly/educate/preach
  • Play the victim
  • Get rigid and inflexible
  • Deny
  • Withdraw/back-off
  • Make unappropriated jokes
  • Think that “I’m” special/unique
  • “This is the way I am – I can’t change”
  • Blame other people
  • Get tired sleepy
  • Intellectualize
  • Get very kind and likeable
  • Don’t listen – or hear only what you want to hear.
  • Attack – the best defense
  • Get resentful; stick to your opinion for a long time
  • Start to do other things in the office than the work
  • Start a new subject of offence
  • Emotional manipulation

How to avoid angry conflicts:

Analyse – (Stop step back, what happened? What is the real cause/root)

Zoom out – Look at the other side, perspective, common ground?

Influence – How can you get the other side to understand your rationale, be adaptive to the other side’s way of thinking, and express the other side’s view better than they can. 

Flexibility – Try to see advantages on the other side, be willing to compromise.

If the conflict is unethical, against your values, or in general makes you feel uncomfortable – LEAVE

Simon Sinek – The best way to confront someone

Have practise all 3 steps in random order.

  1. Say exactly how they made you feel.
  2. Share the specific action that made you feel that way.
  3. Explain the impact of their actions.

“When you walked out of the room, it make me feel completely humiliated and I fear that If you will perhaps make me feel that again I will struggle to trust you again”

Be silent… wait for defensiveness…


Until accountability is taken for specific action.  [10]

Nonviolent COMMUNICATION A Language of Life

  1. The concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being
  2. How we feel in relation to what we are observing
  3. The needs, values, desires, etc. that are creating our feelings
  4. The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives [11]

Articulate Feelings Accurately

  • I felt excluded.
  • I felt powerless.
  • I felt unheard.
  • I felt scolded.
  • I felt judged.
  • I felt blamed.
  • I felt disrespected.
  • I felt a lack of affection.
  • I felt uncared for.
  • I felt lonely.
  • I felt ignored.
  • I felt like I couldn’t be honest.
  • I felt like the bad guy.
  • I felt forgotten.
  • I felt unsafe.
  • I felt unloved.
  • I felt like that was unfair.
  • I felt frustrated.
  • I felt disconnected.
  • I felt trapped.
  • I felt a lack of passion.
  • I felt like I couldn’t speak up.
  • I felt manipulated.
  • I felt controlled.[12]

Steps one can take to calm an angry person

  • Pause and breath: Taking deep breaths triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us down.
  • Listen: Gives you are in a better position to reach an understanding.
  • Be honest: Creating meaningful relationships means opening up and being vulnerable with others.
  • Lower your voice: One of the easiest ways to keep a disagreement civil.
  • Keep some perspective: Zoom out and look at the bigger picture.
  • Avoid harmful behaviors: Criticism (attacking the person’s character,) contempt (insults and nonverbal hostility, like eye-rolling,) stonewalling (shutting down,) and defensiveness (seeing self as a victim.

Best practice for meaningful conversations

A Jewish friend Mr Arthur Gillis shared these valuable thoughts with me, in a speech he brought at the Young Presidents Organisation.

  • Hear Me
  • Even if you disagree with me, don’t make me wrong
  • Acknowledge the greatness within me
  • Remember to look for my loving intentions
  • Tell me the truth with compassion

Timing is everything

We should always start any conversation, especially the ones that are potentially deemed negative, by affirming our unity in Christ received as a gift, (Eph 4:1-5) and the riches of Christ the hope of glory within.  (Col 1:27)

No surgeon just randomly grabs a patient and starts operating on them. A date is set, so they can emotionally prepare. Then the patient is prepped and scheduled for surgery. On the other hand, Jesus used the dining table to discuss more profound and more disruptive issues. 

Asking permission before bringing a correction is also a vital ingredient to meaningful deeper discussions. The person has time to brace themselves and receive the correction. 

Inevitably all actions should be rerouted, like a GPS Voice Assistant towards having the right motive. Christ-centred motives are always rooted in faith that works through love. (Gal 5:6)

Satan’s motives are rooted in fear and anger.

God’s values for our lives:

  • Not on how much we have gathered, but how much we have given.
  • Not on how popular we are with man, but do the demons know you.
  • Not how rich we are, but how many people we have enriched.
  • Not how beautiful we are how but how we have beautified the world and people we touch.
  • Not on how much knowledge we have, but how much we have applied what we know, teaching others.
  • Not on how much we have accomplished, but on how much was accomplished by our friends because of us.
  • Not on how much we have sacrificed but have we fulfilled our obedience, poured out as a drink offering.

[1] https://envs.ucsc.edu/internships/internship-readings/freire-pedagogy-of-the-oppressed.pdf

[2] JA Oosthuizen, A narratological approach to an aspect of practical theology: Scrutinizing the relationship, role and individual responsibility of the South African Farmer and Farm worker against a Christological Standard. THE WESTERN ORTHODOX UNIVERSITY, 2018

[3] http://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/parenting.html Dreikurs, R., Cassel, P. and Kehoe, D., 1991. Discipline without tears. New York: Penguin.

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Misérables

[5] Ernst Fehr and Simon Gächter Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments https://www.jstor.org/stable/117319

[6] Jonathan Haidt, the rightous mind, why good people are devided by politics and religion.

[7] https://www.rwapsych.com.au/blog/the-four-horsemen-toxic-communication-styles-and-how-to-rein-them-in/

[8] http://sesaworubancounselling.homestead.com/The_conflict_blue_print_part_1.pdf

[9] Suppression technics, Ingrid Wibom – Lawyer; Director of HR – Sida, unicef, swedish radio, Stockholm municipality) “Wibom Human Growth”

[10] https://fb.watch/9fQUGaKd1s/ Simon Sinek – The best way to confront someone  

[11] Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. Nonviolent COMMUNICATION A Language of Life https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/product/nonviolent-communication-a-language-of-life-3rd-edition/

[12] https://www.gottman.com