First, you’ve got to make a decision. Does this offense require the conversation? Was it more of an annoyance that you realize really isn’t a big deal? Maybe you need to just let it go. Is it something that you’re not going to be able to drop? Did the person truly hurt you and sin against you? Is it affecting how you feel about the other person? If so, Matthew 18:15 tells us it’s probably time to lean in and have that difficult chat. 

  1. Keep the LAG TIME LOW

Once you decide you need to have that crucial conversation, it’s time to act and don’t delay! The longer you wait, the farther away you get from the actual moment of offense and the harder it will be to talk about it clearly. Plus, the quicker you act, you’ll have less time to make excuses. It’s been said that the health of relationships is directly related to the average lag time between when the offense occurs and when it’s talked about between both people involved. So rip the bandaid off and have that crucial conversation! 


When you initiative the crucial conversation, be intentional about the following:

  • Setting – You don’t want an audience, so an appropriately private setting is best.
  • Approach – Give a heads up. Don’t blindside. Be kind and humble. Choose to believe the best about the other person. Get curious and ask questions. Listen with grace and seek understanding. Explain your perspective calmly.
  • Subject – Attack the problem, not the person. Keep the focus on the issue at hand. 
  • Goal – Be quick to forgive. Seek reconciliation!

How did it go? If you were able to find a resolution, it’s time to move on to Step 5. If it didn’t go so well and you did everything you could on your own, Matt 18:16-17 says it’s time to take one or two people with you and try again. If you’re still struggling, you might need to ask a pastor for some help. 


Remember, just because you forgive the other person and you’re able to reconcile, it doesn’t mean that everything automatically goes back to the way it was. You’ll need to prayerfully consider if some healthy boundaries may be necessary for a while. Make sure you’re clear and kind when you explain these boundaries to the other person. Remember, this isn’t a punishment!

  1. BUILD TRUST… Slowly

Once you’ve extended forgiveness, reconciled, and determined some healthy boundaries, you can start thinking about working towards trusting that person again. Patience is key! It’s true that trust is lost in buckets and earned in drops. That said, with a lot of grace, prayerfully look for opportunities where those little drops of trust can be earned back. 

If you’re looking for more resources, check out these books:

  1. Crucial Conversations – Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler
  2. Good Boundaries and Goodbyes – Lysa TerKeurst 
  3. Trust – Dr. Henry Cloud