In my early Christian life I was naïve. I thought that resolving conflicts should be a piece of cake. After all, if two people are both followers of Jesus Christ and committed to doing things His way, it should not be a problem to speak the truth to one another in love and expect everything to be worked out. (Ephesians 4:15) Right? Wrong – I found it frequently did not turn out that way and it greatly concerned me.
In recent years one of the hot concepts introduced into Christian leadership circles coming out of Willow Creek’s Annual Leadership Summit has been the challenge to “share the last 10%.” In other words, create a culture and encourage an atmosphere where people who rub shoulders together don’t have to hold back anything when it comes to sharing the truth of how they see things.
Now the idea of sharing the last 10% is NOT such a revolutionary truth, it is after all scriptural. But something about the challenge to make a corporate commitment or covenant to actually encourage, make room for and hear it really resonated with leaders – and for good reason.
It’s no secret that there are church landfills littered with the good intentions of those who have held back their last 10% and the disillusionment of those whose attempts to share it backfired or blew up in their face.
My personal experience dating all the way back my early days in pastoral ministry and in church life sadly confirm that. It honestly seemed like I had more failures than successes. I had individuals defensively reject the difficult last 10% I was trying to say to them, only to turn the tables and share their last 10% regarding me. That’s always fun.
I had people walk out of my office and never return to the church. I had people become so defensive that it irreparably damaged our relationship. I even had one person go ballistic and physically attack me. Now I would be quick to admit that I probably always didn’t do things the right way. But thankfully, I have had people respond beautifully and in the process God has lovingly touched and changed both of us and the relationship for good through it.
For what it’s worth, here is what I learned about the resistance people have to hearing the last 10%. Other than their flatout rejecting the truth of what you are saying, the two most common defense mechanisms you are going to run into are criticism of how you did it and when you did it. “You didn’t do it in a loving manner.” And “If you really loved me and were committed to speaking the truth you would have told me long before this.”
However, if I were to boil every thing I’ve learned down to the distilled essence of successfully saying that last 10% it would be this –
“PRAY IT BEFORE YOU SAY IT!” So here are the three basic things you absolutely have to pray before you say it:
1. Pray for God to prepare hearts – yours and theirs. This advice alone is worth the time you are investing to read this blog entry. A well seasoned saint told me this and it literally has worked miracles again and again in resolving conflict. When your heart is right with God, you go into a difficult conversation having His heart of love for that person. And when their heart is prepared, they will be in a place to really hear what you and God are saying to them and respond accordingly.
2. Pray for wisdom as to how to say it. The actual wording of what you say is not as important as how you say it. That last 10% truth that you hope to share is like a brick. It has substance, weight and an edge to it. Delivered in the wrong way it could be injurious to the recipient. You could seriously bruise or break something in them and your relationship if you are not careful. You can cover the brick in velvet, with the kindest way you can say it, but it is still a brick. I find it helpful to picture the truth delivery like gently throwing a velvet covered brick underhanded, with the full intention of making it as easy as possible for the other person to catch it.
3. Pray for the right timing and setting to say it. If you are upset and your emotions are not in check, you may not say the right thing and most assuredly will not do it in the right way. It is good to use your prayer time as a cooling off period and a way to position yourself to be sensitive to God’s timing and the best setting in which to share it.
I’d be interested in hearing your success stories in sharing the last 10%
Click Here for an Email Subscription to the Blog.