So you’re about to meet someone who’s just been exposed as being stuck in some sin. What do you do at this meeting?

What I’ve learned is at the beginning you … listen.

What you will say or do depends on a bunch of factors, so at first you’re in an exploratory phase. You need to listen, prayerfully (I literally have a constant undercurrent of prayer going on, “God, give me wisdom. God, help me to hear what I need to hear. Oh crap God, why me? God, give me discernment. God, what’s really going on with this person…).

So my practice is to begin by saying something like, “Why don’t you tell me why I’m here?” or “Tell me what’s happened. How did you get to this place?” And I make the person talk. I try to say very little for a long time. I just listen.

What am I listening for? What questions do I hope to get answered?

  • Is this person a Christian?
  • How long has this been going on?
  • Does it seem like a one time thing or is it ongoing? It is an addictive behavior?
  • When the person talks through the history of their sin, do they include God in it or is He absent from the story?
  • Who does this person think they’ve hurt?
  • Does it seem likely that the person is going to go immediately back to this sin?

But mostly what I want to know is: Is this person repentant? More than anything else, that will guide how I proceed. More on that next time.