Saying Hard Things to People You Love

“I just want her to be happy.” This was what one father said when my friend asked if he could marry his daughter. Our culture believes that loving others means making them happy.


Is being happy really what it’s all about? If I were to always do what my children thought would make them happy, would that be good for them? We cannot trust “happiness” as the standard for what is best or right. That is why we sometimes have to say hard things to people we love. Telling someone the truth is often necessary for his or her good. And that is love.

So far, here are the 9 Steps for Conflict resolution: 1) Give Space. 2) Check yourself. 3) Let Go of Anger. 4) Love. 5) Pray. 6) Talk and 7) Discern the Issue. 

By going through these steps, you may discover that many of your problems are not legitimate issues. However, if we make it to this point, then it is necessary to take step 8.

8.     Speak the truth 

Jesus has given us the responsibility of going to our brother in the Lord and confronting him for his sin (Matt 18:15). This is for their good, so they can repent and avoid the harm that comes from sin (James 1:15). How we handle this is important. Paul explains that we are to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) and “restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal 6:1).

There is much more to discuss here. What if they won’t listen? What about the other steps in Matt 18? How long should this process take? For now the point is to accept the responsibility and have the courage to take this important step to lovingly and gently speak the truth. 

9.     Give space

Now we are back to the first step. Once you have spoken truth to them, give them time to process it. Unless you sense they are ready to immediately repent, you might want to end the conversation with this question, “Will you please pray about and consider what I have said?” 

How long does it take to go through all these steps?

Of course, there is no set amount of time these steps will require. You must walk through this depending on the Lord for wisdom and leadership. You should be willing for it to take much longer than you want it to. At the same time, do not assume that it must take a long time since there are so many steps. Many of these steps are basic issues of Christian maturity. It is possible that you have incorporated these behaviors into your everyday living and that you are able to process a conflict almost immediately. 

Questions for feedback: Which steps do you find most difficult? Which do you think are most important? Do you have any questions?