A baby's life depends on you.
Today, an expectant mother faces a life-and-death decision. Will you help save her baby’s life? Double your gift to spare mothers and babies from abortion and become 1 of our 710 donors urgently needed today.
Save a child's life

Rescue 2x the babies from abortion!

Yes, I'd like to become
1 of 710 donors needed TODAY
to save TWICE the babies!

Focus on the Family Broadcast

Confronting Others With Grace

Confronting Others With Grace

Deborah Smith Pegues offers helpful strategies for ending disputes and restoring relational unity in a discussion based on her book Confronting Without Offending: Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict.

Original Air Date: July 31, 2019


Mrs. Deborah Pegues: You’re gonna have to get supernatural intervention. It’s like going to the gym and trying to lift a weight, and the trainer has to come over sometimes and spot you. We need the Holy Spirit to spot us amid these instances where the pain is so great. You can’t do this. We can’t live this life in our own strength.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Deborah Pegues. And you’ll be hearing more from her today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And welcome to our broadcast.

Jim Daly: You know, confrontation is one of those things that most people, uh, including Christians, uh, try hard to avoid. It’s just hard to confront somebody. It makes us uneasy. And it’s associated with such negative emotions. It doesn’t feel good to do it. Uh, and it can be intimidating. Those are the basics. But even with all that, the Bible is full of examples of people that had to deal with conflict and confront others. And that gives us hope that with God’s help – I’d say for the most part, with God’s help, confrontation doesn’t have to be such a scary thing. You know, here at Focus on the Family, we want to help you thrive in all areas of your life. And, uh, that includes your marriage, your parenting. And parenting has a little bit of conflict, doesn’t it?

John: Well, it does. Yeah, from time to time, maybe even in the past…

Jim: (Laughter) Maybe like…

John: …(Unintelligible) few hours.

Jim: …Every day.

John: (Laughter).

Jim: But, uh, that’s our goal here. Uh, practicing healthy conflict and communication is a big part of reaching that.

John: Mm hmm. Yeah, and our guest is gonna help us better handle all of that, navigate the issues. And Deborah Pegues has been with us before. She always gets a strong response from you, our listeners. And she is a certified behavioral consultant, a Bible teacher, a popular speaker and the author of numerous books, including one that, uh, really ties into today’s topic – Confronting Without Offending: Positive Steps and Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict.

Jim: Deborah, welcome back to Focus.

Deborah: Oh, I’m so delighted to be here today. Thank you for having me.

Jim: We love you. You just bring so much great wisdom and, uh, energy and excitement.

Deborah: Thank…

Jim: Thank you.

Deborah: Thank you.

Jim: You know, just, uh, for the listeners to know you a little bit better, you were senior vice president of a major company, correct?

Deborah: I was vice president of MCA Universal Studios.

Jim: Yeah, that must have been interesting.

Deborah: Well, it was. It – I was a venture capital division, and we started new companies – a very high-risk venture.

Jim: That’s crazy.

Deborah: Yeah. It was crazy.

Jim: Did you enjoy that?

Deborah: I loved it. It was my second-best job of all times.

Jim: When it…

Deborah: What I’m doing now is my first. When it comes to…

John: Ah.

Jim: …Confronting people, you probably had to do that quite often.

Deborah: A lot, but it’s a great topic to talk about, and it’s a great word. And I just tell everybody, let’s just take a deep breath and make friends with the word of it. Let’s just make what we understand, uh, confrontation is. Can we just do that, Jim, so we can set the…

Jim: Let’s do it.

Deborah: …Tone?

Jim: Do it.

Deborah: So, confrontation is really just the act of coming together face-to-face. In fact, that’s what the word means. “Con” means with, “fron” means face – with face – we’re just coming together face-to-face.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: That’s it. We’re just trying to get unity.

Jim: Well, let me ask the next basic question. Why is confrontation so hard to do?

Deborah: It’s hard because we don’t know what the person is gonna – how the person is going to respond. But most people don’t like the risk of maybe being alienated. Because I don’t know if I tell you, you know, Jim, that really is the wrong color sweater for you…


Deborah: Of course, I wouldn’t say that like that, right?

Jim: Of course not.

Deborah: (Laughter) We’ll get into the principles of it.

Jim: (Laughter).

Deborah: But most people don’t like it because most people just don’t like that risk – you know, I was studying this the other night – the risk of being alone. So, if I tell – ultimately, that’s the core fear. I’m – I’m afraid that if I tell you something, you’re gonna reject me, and now I’m gonna be out of fellowship with you. And I don’t like that. That fear of being alone is just very core.

Jim: Well, some listening right now might be saying some people have an appetite for confrontation. You don’t want to do that either, do you?

Deborah: No.

Jim: I mean, you don’t want to really tell me my…

Deborah: Not in the…

Jim: …Sweater’s not the right color.

Deborah: Not in the historical sense of the word. And I’d have…

Jim: Right.

Deborah: …To invest more in you before I could do that anyway.

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah.

Deborah: But most people – see, my husband thinks I like it.


Jim: Wait a second, now we’re going to marriage counseling here.

Deborah: No, no, he thinks I like – I don’t mind confronting an issue because I know that it’s going to achieve unity. So, I always like to say that confrontation is the bridge to unity because most people who offend us don’t know that they have. So, if I can come together face-to-face with you, now we can be back on the same page. And that’s where God is gonna command the blessing. I always like…

Jim: You know…

Deborah: …To say that.

Jim: Yeah, and I like that.

Deborah: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: I think one of the – the management themes I like to apply here at Focus on the Family is don’t let things sit in the dark under the table.

Deborah: No.

Jim: Get it up on the table so the Lord can help you deal with things.

Deborah: Absolutely. If you remember that the only things that take root are things underneath the surface, so a root of bitterness could develop if you put things under the table.

Jim: Well, I want to get to a practical, uh, story that was in your book, talking about your husband actually (laughter). And you were trying to, uh, you know, I think work something out – maybe remodel his – his home office.

Deborah: Yeah, I was trying to get…

Jim: Describe the events of that…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …Day.

Deborah: Yeah. I was just so excited to do it. And it was a busy time for me. But I took the time to go and buy a special piece of glass. And I put it on his desk. And I couldn’t wait, um, for him to know that he had additional space now to work. He drove up in the garage, and he was sitting in the car 45 minutes…

Jim: 45 minutes.

Deborah: …Before he came in the house. I’m thinking, “Who in the world is he talking to and in the car? Why didn’t he just come in the house and finish? We have no secrets like that. Who is that?” So, he came in the house, and I said, “What – what was going on out there?”

Jim: (Laughter).

Deborah: See, that’s – see, that’s not the way…

Jim: Right.

Deborah: …You start it (laughter).

Jim: Yeah. But that’s the way most of us would start it…

John: Mm hmm.

Deborah: I know. We say, “Why…”

Jim: …To be honest.

Deborah: “…Why in the world?

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: So, I should have said, “Is there – was there a problem, Sweetheart? I’m glad you’re home.” See, I got to have this sandwich approach. I need some affirmation first before I jump right into it. Because anytime you start it with “Why?”, now the person is on the defensive.

Jim: OK, so say it again. What – how…

Deborah: So, I say…

Jim: What’s a better way to go?

Deborah: So, a better way is to – the sandwich approach.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: I have bread, meat, bread.

Jim: OK. So, what does that mean?

Deborah: The bread is an affirmation…

Jim: OK.

Deborah: …Something positive. The meat is the issue.

Jim: It’s got to be wheat bread then…

Deborah: (Laughter).

Jim: …If it’s positive.


Deborah: It’s got to be something – yes. I – I need – I need to be more affirming before I jump into the problem.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: And then I need to close it by being affirming. I should have said, “Sweetheart, was there a problem?” And that’s all I could have said – asking the question. And that’s the key – learn to ask the right question in a positive, non-accusatory way.

Jim: Now, does that methodology work all the time? Is that the kind of standard way you should…?

Deborah: That’s the standard way. And – and there’s a precedent set in the Bible when God confronted Adam and Eve (laughter).

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: “Where are you? What have you done?”

Jim: I think…

Deborah: He asked questions.

Jim: I think when I – I was thinking of the person that’s aggressively wanting to confront. There may be a difference between retaliation and confrontation.

John: Hmm.

Jim: So, describe the difference. Some people…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Want to retaliate.

Deborah: Well, and when I teach these principles, they say, “Why do you – why – you know, Jesus said to ‘turn the other cheek.’ So why are you talking about confronting people?” Listen, there’s a difference between retaliation and confrontation.

Jim: Yes.

Deborah: Confrontation, again, is coming together face-to-face. Retaliation is returning the punishment.

Jim: OK.

Deborah: Now, that’s different.

Jim: Eye for an eye.

Deborah: Yeah. So that’s not godly, but confrontation is. That’s why the Bible says, “If your brother trespass against you, go and tell him his fault.” That’s Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother trespasses against you, go and tell him his fault.” You go and tell him his fault.

Jim: Right. So was there more to your husband’s story…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Of the remodel?

John: (Laughter).

Jim: What happened next?

Deborah: Yes. OK, so I…

Jim: I’m starting to…

Deborah: Oh, yeah.

Jim: …Uncover this…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Now.

Deborah: OK, so he walked in the house. And he said, “You know…” And I had been telling him, “You got to be more involved in people and listen to their stories” because, you know, sometimes I’ll listen too long. He’ll go like, “You need to just put that up, you know.”

Jim: So, you were coaching him.

Deborah: Well, but see, he was doing what I asked him to do. He had a relative who was in distress, and he wanted to sit in the car and minister to her. And it took a while. So, I didn’t know that. I’m just wondering, “Who was he talking to me in the car in the garage – 45 minutes…”

John: While I wait…

Jim: Right (laughter), exactly.

John: While I wait to show him…

Deborah: …While I wait to show him…

John: …What I just did…

Deborah: …The surprise…

John: …For him.

Deborah: …So I can get back to my…

John: Yeah.

Deborah: …Writing? Like, just come on in here and get the surprise…

Jim: (Laughter).

Deborah: …So I can get back to what I’m doing. But it ended right…

Jim: I think we can all relate.

Deborah: It ended well. And when he told me what he was doing, it made sense…

John: Yeah.

Deborah: …Because I – and again, so the principle there – I should have sought first to understand.

John: How do you – how do you have the presence of mind to take the breath and not “Well, finally, you’re home…”

Deborah: Yeah.

John: …Kind of, you know, (unintelligible)?

Deborah: Oh, yeah. “Thanks for joining me today.”

John: Yeah.

Deborah: (Laughter).

John: “So nice of you.” How do you take the breath and just prevent yourself from going down that road?

Deborah: You just do it. You take the breath. I like what you just said. You take the breath. You just take a deep breath, and you say, “OK, everything works together for my good.” That’s my fallback Scripture. Everything is working together for my good. God has me covered. He’s not up to anything. He’s a good man. He may be not responding in a way he should have. He should have just come in and at least waved or whatever. But you just do it because the Holy Spirit helps you; he tempers you. That’s why I always like to say temperance is a fruit of the spirit. You can temper your words. You can temper your tongue. You really can.

Jim: Let me ask you this…

Deborah: OK.

Jim: …Uh, in your book Confronting Without Offending, you identify four core styles.

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: So, let’s – name them and give us a brief description of each.

Deborah: OK. Well, first is the dictator that says you do it my way.

Jim: John…

Deborah: That’s how we confront.

Jim: …Don’t be thinking about…

Deborah: Do it my way.

Jim: …That, John (laughter).

Deborah: Do it my way. And the interesting thing is there is always a time and a place for each one. So, they’re not either good or bad. It just depends on the situation. Because if you have someone in your household, let’s say bringing drugs into the house, that’s not the time to try to seek, first, to understand. That’s the time to say, “Stop it. You do it – what I say.”

Jim: You need to be a dictator.

Deborah: Yeah, you need to be a dictator.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: And then the other one is the abdicator. They run away. They don’t say what’s wrong. They just go quiet. They don’t…

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: …Say. That’s what (unintelligible). Yeah.

Jim: What’s at the core of that – for those that are struggling with confrontation, that say, “Yeah, that’s me, I’m the abdicator”? What – why is that?

Deborah: It’s the fear of confronting. Sometimes it’s an attempt to get attention. You know how children sulk.

Jim: Yes.

Deborah: And they’ll just say, “I’m not gonna say anything.” Or your wife will suck. Or you’ll sulk. They’ll say, “What’s wrong with you?” And what do you say? “Nothing.”

Jim: Nothing.

John: Nothing.

Deborah: (Laughter) Well, something…

Jim: Everything.

Deborah: …Is wrong, you know. And you need to be able to say, “When you did this, I felt this way.” And that’s – that’s it.

Jim: So that’s – that’s interesting though for those that might suffer in that area – that you’re looking for attention. You got to recognize that.

Deborah: Yes. And you, as the person who needs to confront that, you don’t need to cater to that – it – because you teach people by what you tolerate. So, if you teach me that the way to get my attention is to sulk, then that’s gonna be my model from now on.

Jim: Hmm.

Deborah: I’m gonna pout because that’s gonna get your attention. Now, you can – let me give you an example. I was in the house one night, and I told my husband – I said, “Oh, man,” I said, “I wish I had my briefcase from my car.” He’s like, “Do you want that briefcase out of that car or not?”


Deborah: “Why do you need to just, you know, not – be indirect like that? Why don’t you just say, ‘Get the briefcase out of the car’?”

Jim: Well, that’s true. But that could be a fun…

Deborah: (Laughter).

Jim: …Way of getting to that question.

Deborah: Yeah, but it’s manipulative.

Jim: That’s true. OK.

Deborah: (Laughter). I was being…

Jim: Yeah, you got me – checkmate.

Deborah: I was being manipulative…

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: …You know, in a way that I wasn’t aware of. And I love this whole process. It’s kind of like a dance. You know, and I need to be able to say what’s bothering me. That’s the key – I need to be able to say, “Your behavior’s having a negative impact on me.” But I need to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: Because you probably are not intentional in trying to hurt me.

Jim: So, we have the dictator, the abdicator. What’s next?

Deborah: The collaborator – the ones who come together. In that word – collaborator – you see two words – “co”, “labor.” We need to learn how to work together. That says, look, I understand you have a need, but I have a need also. Let’s work together. That’s what the collaborators – and that’s probably the best way.

Jim: And that’s the goal.

Deborah: That’s the goal.

Jim: But you also have the accommodator.

Deborah: Oh, the accommodator. Now, that’s where a lot of Christians are. We keep quiet for peace’s sake. That’s not in the Bible. Do you know that’s not in the Bible?

Jim: Right. But I think there is, you know, I think inferences that if you look at the fruit of the Spirit, uh, you could probably infer that keeping quiet sometimes is the right thing to do.

Deborah: It’s the right thing to do, but it’s not the right thing to do when you’re in conflict.

Jim: OK. That’s fair.

Deborah: No, it’s not. You need to be able to put it on the table. I love how you set the tone at the beginning. You said, “Don’t put it under the table.”

Jim: Yeah, that’s right.

Deborah: Come on, let’s just say what’s out there. And I don’t need to keep quiet for peace’s sake because I send my anger underground. And I believe that’s what resentment is – it’s just resending your anger underground. You need to keep it on the table.

Jim: What keeps people from being in that healthy zone of collaborator?

Deborah: Sometimes just not knowing how, not knowing the words. And that’s why I like to teach people get God’s words. If you get quiet and say, “Holy Spirit, give me Your words.” His words don’t return void. They prosper. They accomplish the purpose. So, when I’m going to confront somebody, I’ll say, “Lord, I’m – I need to talk to Suzy. Give me Your words so that I can accomplish Your purpose.” ‘Cause keep in mind, at all times, the goal of confrontation is to bring harmony and peace. 

Jim: Yeah. You know, so often these areas, uh, that we’re talking about can be, uh, you know, suggested by the world as well. These are good principles to live by. So, as Christians, what are the Scriptural references? I think in the book you talk about three core principles. You’ve alluded to them…

Deborah: Instances where…

Jim: …But let’s say ’em.

Deborah: …We were commanded to confront.

Jim: OK.

Deborah: So – OK, the first was Matthew 18:15, “If your brother trespasses against you, go and tell him his fault.” But it – that’s when you – that’s when said somebody has offended you.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: But there’s also a time when you have offended somebody. And that’s in Matthew 5:23. And it says, “If you are at the altar, and you are offering your gift, and you remember that somebody has something against you,” he says, “Just stop it right there, and go and be reconciled.”

Jim: Yes.

Deborah: That means you’ve noticed that somebody has something against you. And they may not have said it, but you feel that emotional distance. And you need to say, “Is something going on? Did I offend you in some way?” Seek, first, to understand. You need to be the initiator of the reconciliation. We – we each have a responsibility.

Jim: What happens in that situation where you have attempted to do that, but it gets rejected?

Deborah: You’ve done your part.

Jim: So, you’re done.

Deborah: You’re done. You’re done.

Jim: Interesting.

Deborah: Yeah, you’re done. And see – and sometimes you just keep pulling after somebody…

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: …And they don’t want to be reconciled with you for whatever reason.

Jim: They want to stay bitter.

Deborah: Maybe they want – they don’t know how to forgive. They don’t want to forgive. That’s their lever.

Jim: Hmm.

Deborah: They’re gonna make…

Jim: That’s…

Deborah: …You pay…

Jim: …Interesting.

Deborah: …From now on.

Jim: And the third one would be Proverbs 19, correct?

Deborah: Well, that says don’t always confront. Proverbs 19:11 just says, “You know, a man’s wisdom gives him patience, and it’s to his glory to overlook an offense.”

Jim: Huh.

Deborah: So, don’t confront everything. You know, and I always say the danger in my teaching this is that women especially leave out of this seminar that now they’re ready to just make everybody line up. They gonna be like, “All right, all of you line up, no more quiet here. I’m not gonna be quiet anymore. I’m not gonna be accommodating for peace’s sake. This is what I want, and I want it now.”

Jim: Yeah. But it’s difficult to let go. I mean, some people, temperamentally, they’re ruminators. And what I mean by that is they dwell on something to the most negative degree possible.

Deborah: And that’s learned.

Jim: How does – OK, that’s learned. So how does the ruminator back up and not go to the – the most horrible, uh, thought about another person? How do you train yourself?

Deborah: You train yourself with the Word of God. And you have to desire, at the very core, I want to do this God’s way. So, I know it’s His will for me to forgive – it’s His will. So, I’m not gonna feel it. I’m just gonna do what I need to do. I’m gonna pray for them, do good, bless them, those kinds of things.

John: Hmm.

Deborah: That’s what you do.

John: I’m thinking of several relationships right now…

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah, aren’t we all?

John: …To apply…

Jim: Thank you, John.

John: …These concepts to, and we’re – we’re only 10 or 15 minutes into the…

Jim: (Laughter).

John: …Program here. Uh, we still have another 10 or 15 to go. Confronting Without Offending: Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict – our guest on Focus on the Family has written this great book – Deborah Smith Pegues. And, uh, she is full of Biblical insight and wisdom. And obviously, uh, Deborah, you’ve stumbled along the way, and that’s how you’ve come up with a lot of these great concepts.

Deborah: Well, I mean, I used to be in conflict with people because I’m – I tend to be direct, and I know that that kind of puts people like… But I, you know – I learned to get His words. That’s why I – I have actually written out Scriptures. Isaiah 55:11, you know, “My words don’t return void.” Or Isaiah 50:4, “God has given me the tongue of the learned.” I should know how to speak a word in season.

Jim: Hmm.

Deborah: So, I say, “God, give me Your words.”

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: And I listen for them. I don’t have to just confront and say the first thing that’s on my mind.

John: Hmm. Well, get a copy of the book and, uh, a CD or download of this conversation at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: You also have, uh, six strategies for an effective confrontation. Let’s go through those. Uh, cover ’em and then highlight the ones you think are most critical.

Deborah: OK. Well, first of all, you need to understand the purpose of the confrontation. When you’re going to speak to someone about something that’s problematic, what is your goal? At the end of the day, at the end of the conversation, what do I want to achieve? So be clear on the purpose. And it should always be to start some good behavior or to stop some bad behavior. So, think about what do I want to happen at the end?

Jim: OK.

Deborah: But secondly, we have to select the right time and the right place. There’s a time to confront, and there’s a time not to confront.

Jim: Right.

Deborah: You know, and so when a person is hungry, tired, whatever, that’s not the time to say, “We need to talk about this.” Not the time. Just wait till the person can be more receptive. And when you do it, you go on your own behalf. You own the problem.

Jim: OK.

Deborah: You know how sometimes we confront like a sniper. We’re hiding. Like,
“Well, they think you are…” Well, no, you got to say, “I’ve noticed this.”

Jim: Right.

Deborah: I own the problem, so that I – I’m not coming here on behalf of everybody. I’m coming here on behalf of the impact on me. And then I want to be specific. I want to talk about exactly what you’ve done that I find problematic. I don’t want to say…

Jim: Yeah, give that example.

Deborah: Yeah, I don’t want to say, “Well, you know, you’re just…” For instance, I had this example. Let’s say somebody straightened your husband’s tie at church, and you were a little uncomfortable with that. That just seemed a little bit familiar to you.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: Too familiar. You don’t want to say, “Well, you should just watch your behavior when you’re around married man.” Well, what does that mean?

Jim: Right.

Deborah: I need to say, “I was a little uncomfortable with that. I know that you’re a friendly person. And I don’t know what that might look like to others, but I want to help protect your reputation as well as my husband’s. And I – you may not be aware of that, but you might not want to do that in public…

Jim: No, that’s good.

Deborah: …Or anywhere.”

Jim: Yeah.


Jim: No, that’s good.

Deborah: OK, don’t do that again.

Jim: That’s a great example. So that’s – is that three?

Deborah: That’s four. (Laughter)

Jim: That’s four. OK, go to the fifth.

Deborah: OK. Uh, seek, first, to understand. Don’t seek to be understood but ask the question. Keeping – ask the question. Read the story of – of how God confronted Adam and Eve. He asked questions…

Jim: Oh, interesting.

Deborah: …That He already knew the answer to.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: “Adam, where are you?” You’re God. You know where he is.

Jim: In fact, probably a great illustration of applying these principles, again in a Biblical context, is Nathan confronting David.

Deborah: Yes, when David says, “What?” And then Nathan says…

Jim: (Laughter).

Deborah: …You know, you tell David, “You’ve done something bad.” And David, kind of, like, resisted him. And he says, “You are the man.” (Laughter).

Jim: Right.

Deborah: “You know, I gave an example. What I just talked about, you’re guilty.”

Jim: And he connected the dots.

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, he used kind of a metaphor.

Deborah: Yeah, right.

Jim: But…

Deborah: Right. Yeah, he did.

Jim: …He knew David would understand…

Deborah: Right.

Jim: …It.

Deborah: And he did.

John: I like, Jim, the example because Nathan took a question to David. I mean, he – he laid out that story, and then he said, “What should be done about this?”

Deborah: Yes. Questions are powerful. That’s why you got to ask the right questions because they get the person to really see themselves. Like, what did you mean when you did that? What – what were you thinking. Not what – what in the world were you thinking? No. What were you thinking? I’m seeking to understand. My old mentor used to say these exact words. She said, “Help me to understand.” And then she would go on to describe the behavior. “Help me to understand.”

Jim: Is there a way to, uh, make that – I don’t wanna be flippant with this – but to make it kind of a positive game so when you’re engaging people you remember to do it the right way, you remember to ask questions? Uh…

Deborah: Well, just think about a hamburger.

Jim: OK.

Deborah: (Laughter).

Jim: Yeah, no, you’re good…

Deborah: You know…

Jim: …At these.

Deborah: …You – you have the bun. You have the meat. Make sure the meat is thick enough because sometimes we’d do – what I used to say we used to do in Texas when we were growing up – if we didn’t have meat for the sandwich, we’d make a mayonnaise sandwich. It would just be bread and mayonnaise.

Jim: Yeah, not so good.

Deborah: Then you were like, “Where’s the meat?”


Deborah: So sometimes you can confront people in a way until where you’re not specific enough or it’s not strong enough to they know what indeed is the problem you’re trying to confront. So, you want to make sure you give the bread. Here’s an example. You’re in Sunday school. The person next to you in the room is just too loud – in the next room – the next teacher. And you can say, “Listen, you have such great thoughts and, you know, we really enjoy your Sunday school class, but the quarters here are so close we’re gonna need – it really is disturbing to my class, you know.” It’s…

Jim: Wow.

Deborah: Yeah. So, you say, “Listen, can you just tone it down?…”

Jim: Hmm.

Deborah: “…You know, because we – you know, we know you have a lot of wisdom. And – and I even get distracted sometimes.” So, you got to own the problem like that.

Jim: Well, we’re touching on that other area of speaking right words.

Deborah: Right words.

Jim: And again, this kind of comes out of who we are.

Deborah: Who…

Jim: The tongue – you know the…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Scripture talks about our tongue being evil. And we speak those words, and you can’t wrap them back up. Once they leave your mouth, they’re there.

Deborah: That’s why you – you tell yourself – see, there should be affirmations that we – one of ones – one of my affirmations is from Proverbs 31. I don’t remember the exact Scripture. But it says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” So, I’ll say that’s me. I opened my mouth with wisdom. Now, I don’t always do it, but I determined that to be my – my standard. I opened my mouth with wisdom, and on my tongue is the law of kindness. Now, I can tell you when I didn’t open my mouth with wisdom, when I hired somebody who didn’t know what he was doing, and I was so frustrated with the fact that he was – had lied about his experience, one day I was giving him something, and I said, “What is the problem? This isn’t brain surgery” (laughter).

Jim: Right.

Deborah: I didn’t know till years later he said that wiped him out. He told…

Jim: Wow.

Deborah: …Somebody else.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: He said I just wiped him out.

Jim: And what about the person who, either in their marriage or in their work environment, they manage the situation, they manage people in the work environment, or maybe they try to manage their marital…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Relationship…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Right? And they think that’s the right thing to say because it brings clarity.

Deborah: No, it does.

Jim: (Laughter).

Deborah: But it’s not gonna bring unity (laughter).

Jim: Yeah, well, that’s true.

Deborah: Yeah. And the purpose is to bring unity and effectiveness.

Jim: Interesting. So that’s a…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Good banner to remember.

Deborah: That’s why, in a work environment, you always want to confront privately.

Jim: Hmm. That’s good.

Deborah: Privately. Yes.

Jim: You also speak to the, uh, importance of listening. And, you know, some of us that like to speak, if you’re extroverted, that’s a hard discipline to learn.

Deborah: It is. It is.

Jim: So how do you go about doing that better?

Deborah: You just stop talking.


Jim: It’s got to be more complicated.

John: That’s a good start.

Deborah: No, no, you just stop talking. You – and you know – you know the thing to do? And I always say this – when you’re in a confrontation, wait five seconds before you respond. You can look at the person, just like I’m looking at you now. You’re – listen, if you’re not the type that like to look a person directly in his eyes, look at his nose. You say – and you nod your head. You say, “I hear you.” Is – does not mean…

Jim: Disarming.

Deborah: …I agree with you. It literally means I hear you (laughter).

Jim: Right, yeah.

Deborah: But if you say that, now you’ve validated that person’s position. And I can tell you half the battle in a confrontation is for that other person to feel like they’ve been understood.

Jim: Yeah. No, that’s so good.

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: Speak to the pitfalls we need to look for, uh, when we’re negotiating, if we can call it that. Talk about that negotiating process. What is it? And where does it pop up?

Deborah: Well, make sure it’s a win-win. You don’t want to always just come away the winner ’cause you’re the loser. If you’re the only one who won in the conversation, you’re the loser.

Jim: How do you apply that to today’s politics? I mean, you’re watching the news I’m sure.

Deborah: Oh, gosh.

Jim: It seems like it’s all dysfunctional.

Deborah: It’s so dysfunctional it’s unreal. That’s why we need every person out there praying for the unity of the country every single day. I know people who won’t even pray for this President. They won’t even call his name. I’m like, really? Christian? Really? What – how do you ignore the Scripture that talks about praying for those in authority?

Jim: Right. And no matter…

Deborah: We have to do that.

Jim: …The spectrum, I think Christians…

Deborah: No, it doesn’t matter.

Jim: …Are called to pray.

Deborah: It doesn’t matter ’cause the powers that be are ordained of God. I believe that. Whoever is in office, God has allowed the person to be in office and it’s for a purpose. Blah. Blah. Blah. (Laughter).

Jim: Yeah. No, I think it’s…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …So true.

Deborah: Yeah, but we – we’re gonna have – in terms of that, we’re gonna have to learn to be at peace with ourselves. And you don’t need to pay anybody back. You need to make sure it’s win-win. 

Jim: You know, Deborah, probably the greatest issue we have is really letting loose of the offender. We touched on it a little. But how do we really dig down and let go of – of somebody who’s harmed us emotionally or, you know, in any way? There’s a story – a supporter to Focus – I won’t embarrass him by using his name. But he was jogging along the road…

Deborah: Ew.

Jim: …And hit by a driver and broke bones, went into the windshield. Could’ve killed him. And over a short few weeks, just because of his kindness, he’s actually led this man to the Lord, the driver who hit him. Imagine the fear of that. You could respond with great, um…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Meanness toward that person. Righteously say, “What did you do to me? Look what you’ve done to me.”

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: “I’m gonna have this long rehabilitation time.” Instead, he talked to him about the Gospel and the fact that, “Christians need to forgive, and I’m a Christian, and I forgive you for this.” Wow.

Deborah: How do you do that?

Jim: Yes.

Deborah: You know that requires some supernatural intervention. You can’t just forgive in your own strength. You’re gonna have to ask God to give you the grace to do that. You need divine empowerment to forgive. I was raised in a family where we didn’t forgive at all. I told my husband when we first got together, “Try not to do anything where I have to forgive you because in my family, we do no forgiving” (laughter). I actually told him that.

Jim: Wow.

Deborah: But you know what? As I learned and I had a great mentor in this area, you’re gonna have to get supernatural intervention. It’s like going to the gym and trying to lift a weight, and the trainer has to come over sometimes and spot you. We need the Holy Spirit to spot us amid these instances where the pain is so great. You can’t do this. We can’t live this life in our own strength.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: And that’s the lesson. Ask God’s help.

Jim: Yes, that’s the key. I hope everybody’s hearing that, Deborah…

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: …Because you’ve gotta start there.

Deborah: Yes.

Jim: He’s the one that can give you that insight…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …That peace in your heart to not only…

Deborah: Yeah.

Jim: …Forgive but to do this well.

Deborah: And don’t try it in your own strength. I mean, you can’t count to 10 or make a New Year’s resolution, “I will. I will. I will.” You have to say, “Holy Spirit, come in.” And you know what? You have to behave your way towards that. Feelings follow actions.

Jim: Yeah.

Deborah: Feelings follow actions.

Jim: Huh.

Deborah: Begin to do good towards that person. What does the Bible say? “Bless those who have hurt you, do good, pray for them.” Do that. Do that, and you will find your feelings changed. Don’t wait for the emotion though to come first. Start doing it.

Jim: Good coaching. Deborah Pegues, uh, this has been great. Uh, you always have such great insights.

Deborah: Thank you.

Jim: So, thank you for being with us. I have one more question for you.

Deborah: OK.

Jim: But first, I want to turn to the listener. Maybe this is touching your heart. You have great conflict with your spouse or with people at work, maybe your kids. We want to support you and provide you with the resources you need to do better. And really, when I say do better, I mean to demonstrate more Godly behavior. When the church is acting Godly, I think the culture will come to their senses. So, it’s on us.

John: Mm hmm. It really is, and Deborah’s done a wonderful job of laying all of this out in her great book, Confronting Without Offending: Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict.

Jim: She really has, John. And I’d also like to ask you to consider supporting the ministry of Focus on the Family. Each and every day, over a thousand people reach out to Focus for help. Many are in full blown crisis. Others are just looking for some practical help and wisdom. God is really working through friends like you to bring healing and hope to couples on the verge of divorce, mothers considering abortion, families in crisis, and parents who are struggling, maybe children waiting in foster care and so much more. But all of those who benefit from Focus on the Family resources like this radio program, only a small percentage support the ministry through prayers and financial gifts. Families across the country and around the world need you. Think about how many more people God can help through your support of Focus on the Family today. And when you donate today, a gift of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of Deborah’s wonderful book, Confronting Without Offending: Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict. And that’ll be our way of saying thank you for doing your ministry through Focus on the Family.

John: Get in touch and donate and request your copy of Confronting Without Offending when you go online at focusonthefmaily.com/broadcast. Or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459.

Jim: So, Deborah, here’s the question, um, what would you say to that person who’s been avoiding confrontation for a long time? Uh, she thinks it’s just too late to reopen or open for the first time those floodgates and bring it all out into the open now. Speak to that person specifically.

Deborah: Whatever the issue is, first of all, narrow it down to one thing. Don’t bring many issues to the table at once. Let’s just get the core issue down. And then ask God for His words. “God, give me the words to bring this issue to the table in a way that’s honoring to You.” And then decide that no matter what you’re gonna always be that initiator. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Don’t keep silent any longer. The Bible didn’t say blessed are the peacekeepers, not those who just keep peace and keep quiet for peace’s sake. Because if you don’t have the peace, then you haven’t kept the peace.

Jim: Hmm.

Deborah: Everybody has to have the peace. And so, I say get God’s words. Um, call the person up and say, “I really want to be in harmony with you. How can we work this out?”

Jim: Man, that is so good.

Deborah: Yeah. “Tell me what I’ve done, as well. I’m willing to hear what I’ve done to cause this breach. I’m open to hearing it.”

Jim: Deborah, thanks for being with us. Good advice.

Deborah: Thank you.

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Confronting Without Offending

Confronting Without Offending

Receive Deborah Smith Pegues' book Confronting Without Offending for your donation of any amount!

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast logo

Understanding the Root of Your Child’s Misbehavior (Part 1 of 2)

Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his or her birth order. Featuring Jean Daly (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Hope and Encouragement for Military Families

Jessica Manfre describes the unique challenges military spouses and families face. Long separation, constant moves, and work-related trauma can devastate a marriage. The good news is — God is always there. Faith, friendship, and service can build a strong foundation for facing life’s challenges.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Honoring the Fallen on Memorial Day

Focus President Jim Daly and John Fuller share listener-submitted stories of friends and family members who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we enjoy today as Americans.

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.

RVL Discipleship: The Study

Want to read the Bible like never before?

Get your free episode from our new Bible study, RVL Discipleship: The Study, so you can understand the context of Scripture and hear Jesus’s words the way the first Disciples did.