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Slammin’ with the Hammer of Truth!

I was a young mom and pastor’s wife when a lady in the church (who actually scared me and my children to death) confronted me with my attitude. She didn’t know me well, we’d been at the church barely three months, and I’d had only a few interactions with her. She boldly laid the hammer down on me when she said,

“You just walk all over people!”

I was stunned. And more than a little terrorized.

I guess she thought that was something I needed to hear. And I imagine she believed she was just giving me her dose of honesty for my own good. She may’ve thought, “Well, I’m just telling the truth!”

I may’ve needed a confrontation, but her verbal slam was given without mercy and tinged with a bit of exaggeration. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been guilty of handing out a few doses of brutal honesty myself. How many times have I justified making a verbal slam by running to the safety of “Well, it’s the truth!” I used to think if it was “the truth” then it needed to said. And I still agree the truth needs to be said, sometimes even shouted from the mountain tops. But the privilege of speaking truth can be abused and even bring damage if it’s used as a hammer.

In the book Fierce Women: the Power of a Soft Warrior, I include a list of the characteristics of a beautifully fierce woman. This has been a really hard one for me to learn: 

* The Beautifully Fierce Woman is honest but kind. 

“Honest but kind” is another way of saying “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

There are times when we need to come alongside a friend (or our husband) and share an uncomfortable word of truth. I call it having a “salty grace talk” based on Colossians 4:6:

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

But there’s a few heart-checks I need to make before I deliver a load of uncomfortable truth:

♥      Seek the Lord first. Spend time in prayer and the Word seeking direction and timing before holding this conversation (James 1:19–20).

♥      Be sure your desire to confront stems from right motives—spiritual restoration for the other and love for him/her as your brother or sister in Christ—not in order to ‘fix things’ more to your liking (1 Thessalonians 5:14–15; Hebrews 12:14–15).

♥      Search your own heart first—is there anything in your own life that needs to be confessed to God or anyone else (Matthew 7:3–5)? If you have unresolved issues you need to deal with those before confronting anyone.

♥      We can’t come with a pious/holier-than-thou attitude and expect to be heard. God opposes that kind of heart (1 Peter 5:5). It may be difficult, but this kind of conversation must be filled with grace, forgiveness, humility and love (Ephesians 3:17; 4:31–32).

When I’m on the receiving end of a salty grace talk, these are a few heart checks I use:

♥      Look for any element of truth in what is being said, even if the one delivering truth may be exaggerating or overreacting. God has allowed this and I need to know what He wants me to learn from hearing this.

♥      Humbly receive rebuke. Remember that fools reject correction but the wise will learn and grow through having a teachable heart that receives (Proverbs 1:5, 7; 10:17)

♥      If the rebuke is truly a hammer slam without any element of grace, consider whether the other person is reacting out of hurt (hurting people hurt others) and commit to praying for them. Consider holding a follow-up conversation addressing their “hammer-slam” approach.

14 Comments

  • Jen

    Kim,

    Thank you for sharing. I always learn so much from you. For me it is hard to be corrected, but over time ive realized I need it. It has helped me to grow spiritually. I also try to remember to have grace when talking with others about their sin. I think it harder to give it then receive it because sometimes they may not accept it. However, Gods grace covers all and as long as our heart is right and we give correction, in a loving fashion, God will do the rest. It is His place to work on their heart, not ours. I’ve learned we just need to show love and grace.

  • Anna Smith

    I really enjoyed today’s post as I have been on the receiving end many times of a “hammer slam” from people that I considered very good friends. Sometimes I believe that their intentions are good but other times I feel that they were intentionally trying to cause hurt & embarrassment towards me. I just recently had to go to God with a situation similar to this and it was amazing the way that he spoke to me trough his word, our recent bible study lesson and now this post. I must remember that sometimes hurtful words or actions come from people who are hurting and this may be happening so that I may know and pray for them. Thanks so much. I am so happy for you and look forward to reading the book.

  • Lesley

    Kim,
    I always stand amazed when God gives you just what you need when you need it. I was the one who brought the hammer yesterday in a very bad way. It has caused a lot of damage between my mother and I. When my husband tried to talk with me about it I used those same words “it’s the truth” Brutal honesty she needs to deal with it. I am the one who needs to deal with it and with my heart. I really need to show grace God’s great amazing grace. I know I will have to ask forgiveness of her and pray for his guidance to show love and grace in this very difficulty situation. I want to fix it and I really thought my words could fix it, instead they did much more damange. I greatly regret them. I know he has a plan and a timeline to work it all out. Thank you so much for the reminder. I needed this.
    Love and miss you bunches,
    Lesley

  • Missy

    Kim,
    I am so glad your wrote a book and have starting blogging!!! I have been a listener of Revive Our Hearts from the beginning. I hear you on the show from time to time and have been so blessed by your marriage testimony. I see myself in a lot of the way the Lord graciously delivered you from and pray the same for myself. God bless you and your ministry.

  • Beth

    Kim,
    THANK YOU so much for writing this book for me :-)!!
    I heard you first on the ROH Radio and your testimony spoke to me. I am reading your book these days and God is revealing to me a lot of truth about “my side of the coin”. I think I have been always too critical and harsh with him …. I want to change…
    But last year I found out that my husband has viewed pornography all the past 6 years of our marriage (and before we got married). It truly devastated me. I am trying to forgive. He is changing and receiving the grace of God. But I still struggle with bitterness, resentment and trusting him again. It is so hard to let go of the hurt and therefore also hard to start treating my husband with love and respect.
    I know though that this is what he truly needs and what God wants. I feel stuck!!!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Great word, Jen~

    “It is His place to work on their heart, not ours. I’ve learned we just need to show love and grace.”

    So true. In order to do this, it helps to focus on the gospel and remind myself of how unreasonable it is to withhold grace from others when I’ve been shown such undeserved love, grace, and forgiveness at the cross!

    “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32)

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Yes, Anna, you are so right when you said~

    “I must remember that sometimes hurtful words or actions come from people who are hurting and this may be happening so that I may know and pray for them.”

    When we empathize with someone by “climbing into their skin” to consider the context of their lives and difficulty of their past, present, or future circumstances, this births compassion for them. When we intercede in compassion for the hurting, or those that might be considered “enemies” we are reflecting the character of Christ.

    “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . .” (Matt. 5:44)

    I look forward to hearing from you after you’ve read the book. 🙂 Let me know how God uses it in your life!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Susan ~

    I wish you would’ve introduced yourself to me at the True Woman Conference. So glad you were there!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Dear Lesley,

    I love how God does that! He is so personal, knows right where we are and right what we need, and He delivers it right on time! Hoping you were able to receive forgiveness from your mother and that this became an opportunity for God to grow the two of you in your relationship with one another.

    Love and prayers dear friend!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Dear Beth,

    I am so glad you’re reading the book and pray you find it helpful. I hope especially you’ll consider what I encourage women to do if their husband struggles with a sinful habit. Let me hear how God uses it in your life. May God bring great victory and do a completely new work within your relationship!