Is Confrontation a Spiritual Leadership Skill?
What an interesting question this is. In my previous life as a university professor, I engaged in research-based argument for my livelihood. In my class, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I used confrontation as a teaching tool to encourage and even challenge my students to reach higher and dig deeper in defending and supporting their positions. I was not surprised when I discovered, early in my career, many, if not most, of the students entering the program lacked basic critical thinking skills. These don’t come naturally to people and, unfortunately, given most school curricula are focused on content and not process, the vast majority of public school system graduates are not trained to be critical thinkers. And that is to the advantage of the governing structure of society – but that’s another issue.
Let us go to Scripture to find godly examples of confrontation. In Matthew 18:15,16, Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, commands us: If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. This is positive confrontation and is essential in the spiritual toolbox of every believer.
And then there are those who are commanded to be confrontational. These brothers and sisters in Messiah are called ‘watchmen for the Lord’. To understand this role more carefully, we must go to Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. First, in Isaiah 52:8 we are given one function of watchmen: The voices of your watchmen — they lift up their voices, shouting for joy together; for every eye will see when the Lord returns to Zion. Then in Ezekiel 33:1-5, Yahweh shares with the prophet: Son of man, speak to your people and tell them: Suppose I bring the sword against a land, and the people of that land select a man from among them, appointing him as their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows his trumpet to warn the people. 4 Then, if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet but ignores the warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. 5 Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but ignored the warning, his blood is on his own hands. If he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. Here we read of those who have been appointed by their fellows to be there to warn the people of the impending time of judgment. In our day, I make the assumption these are our pastors and spiritual leaders. However, if they fail to heed the warning then Yahweh makes it abundantly clear: if the watchman sees the sword coming but doesn’t blow the trumpet, so that the people aren’t warned, and the sword comes and takes away their lives, then they have been taken away because of their iniquity, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.
This is not saying the watchman must change people’s ways, nor is it saying he/she is responsible if they don’t; this is a clear warning to those who have been anointed to be watchmen: if you fail to warn the people in your community of the impending danger, you will be held accountable for their suffering and blood.
Those of us in positions of leadership (watchmen) within our spiritual communities have a greater burden than members of those communities. I ask you to consider these questions carefully:
Are your messages, within Bible Study or as messages from the Pulpit, feel-good teachings? Are they aimed at meeting what your community wants to hear? (In these cases, as the ear fills, the soul empties.)
Do any of your messages contain the warning of impending judgment, during and after the ‘Troubles’?
Do most of your teachings contain the message of hope of Salvation, brought about by the shed blood of Adonai Yeshua?
Beloved, we believers have a much greater level of spiritual expectation placed upon us, than does the world. Our leaders are held to an even higher standard. I pray when the sound of the trumpet sounds, those who hear are ready to proclaim the warning.
Abba B’Shamayim, Father in Heaven, give your leaders the courage to speak out and confront those who have made the commitment to follow Your Way and have now deviated from Derekh HaKodesh, the Holy Way. I pray your conviction be upon all your anointed leaders, such that their message of hope and warning might enter that one heart open to receive. In the blessed name of Adonai Yeshua, our Messiah.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.