One of the hardest things to do in life is to correct somebody that you care about or love. It’s very difficult for a few reasons. Number one, we sometimes have the habit of ignoring a loved one’s faults because we want to see the good in them and so we let some things go. We’ll put up with sins because we love them and to a degree, accepting someone’s defects is a good thing. But when those defects begin harming someone’s soul, they should be addressed. Number two, we often don’t correct somebody because we feel like they might take it the wrong way. Instead of taking it as a sign of love, they might take it as an implication of superiority. And number three, it’s hard to correct somebody’s faults when we have serious faults of our own. We don’t want to look like hypocrites, so we keep our mouths shut.
But we should not let sin go unaddressed. Recently on The Cale Clarke Show, Cale offered seven helpful tactics we could use when addressing a friend or loved one who has fallen into sin. We can take direction from the example of Our Lord in the gospel who had to correct his friends, the Apostles, on several occasions.
It’s important to note that to even be a good friend, we should want the best for our friends. And to fraternally correct them, help them to become better people, and show them a good example takes a tremendous amount of love. Enemies are the ones who speak well of someone to their face but badly of them behind their back.
The sevens tips are as follows:
- Confront yourself first. In order to remain honest and true about the subjects that you’re addressing, you should remove the “log” from your own eye before the “speck” in your brother’s. You might end up witnessing that aforementioned hypocrisy where the corrector is as guilty of the defect in question as the person they are correcting is. Remove that danger by examining your conscience and asking Our Lord if you too are guilty of that sin. If so, address it. Your example might end up being all that’s needed to help your friend.
- Confront with a loving heart. We see in St. Paul’s writings a lot of forceful language and severe stances on many topics. However, upon a deeper dive, we can also see tenderness and love for the members of the early church from St. Paul. “I am not writing this to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” (1 Corinthians 4:14) That is how you must approach those you correct: with a pure heart and pure intentions.
- Confront at the right time. No matter who it is that needs confrontation, you have to consider the surrounding circumstances and how that will affect their reception. You should consider what time of day it is, what type of mood they’re in, what type of stress they are under, and who is around you when you speak to them. You probably don’t want to do it when they’re tired, irritable, or finishing something difficult. They will be more receptive to correction when they are well-rested, their mind is active, and they are relaxed and enjoying your company.
- Confront the most important matters. The conversation between you and your friend could possibly go on for hours or days if you addressed every little thing and at the end of it, you would hate each other. As faulted beings, we’re loaded with problems, but most of them are little things. It makes sense that when you have a moment with your friend and an opportunity to help them out, you should address the biggest issue, the elephant in the room. What fraternal correction will help them the most? They’re much more likely to take you seriously if you pick one topic and bring it up lovingly.
- Confront using scripture and the teaching of the Church. The fraternal correction cannot be based on your personal opinions. It should come from the teaching of Our Lord and the Church’s stance on things. Sharing relevant scripture or CCC passages can often be very powerful in causing one to reflect on their actions. We often don’t want to be wrong according to others, but being wrong according to God will make it easier to swallow our pride.
- Confront them confidentially and privately. Cale mentioned that in the early Church, people used to confess their sins in front of the entire congregation, no matter how serious the sin was. Thankfully, the sacrament of confession has undergone some updates and is now a private matter. It is much easier for people to admit fault or defeat in the confines of a personal conversation. If they trust you and love you, they will see your good intentions and they will try to improve, knowing that you will not share any information with the public.
- Help your friend stay accountable. Once you confront them about this serious sin, they will either be receptive or refuse your help. If they’re receptive, you can’t just leave them to fend for themselves! You should help them through steps to change their ways. That might include things like going to confession together, checking in periodically, or helping them remove near occasions of sin. As Cale mentioned in a segment a few weeks ago, people leading sinful lives often stay there because of the tribe they have formed. If you’re going to help them change their ways, you have to show them that they are welcome elsewhere, that they are loved, and that there are alternatives to sin.
Listen to the whole talk below:
Listen to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT