Boy talk about a tough topic! Tough talk is a tough topic however, if we are ever going to accomplish all that God has for us we are going to have to have some hard conversations. Hard conversations with ourselves and hard conversations with others. Many of these conversations are going to be filled with tough talk. Meaning we are going to speak the truth in love in order to preserve the unity that we have or in order to bring us into the unity that we need (John 17) in order to fulfill our life’s mission and the mission of the Church God has called us to. Tough talk happens in every healthy relationship and should be modeled daily. Tough talk is not, “Hey your dress is ugly and your Momma dresses you funny!” Ephesians has one main idea in mind and that is the unity of the body growing into full maturity and being it’s most effective in advancing the kingdom. It has little or nothing to do with being mean, spiteful or hurtful just for the sake of perceived truth. This generation has an idea of that when they say, “Hey I’m just trying to be real.”, directly following an opinion, insult, or rude comment displaying no compassion or love just perceived truth. Here is what I know and have learned, if we do not have hard conversations and if tough talk isn’t a part of our lives we suffer in many ways. Our relationships suffer because where there is lack of honesty there is also a lack of trust and transparency. Our ministry/ workplace suffers because bottled up emotions and feelings eventually come to surface in behaviors if not properly dealt with. Ultimately disunity takes place in every area by avoiding tough talk and hard conversations. I also know that tough talk creates huge amounts of stress and tension. Actually I believe it reveals stress and tension that is already there just un-addressed. The Apostle Paul tells the church to speak the truth in love so that we will grow into Christ. We stay connected to Jesus by being honest and truthful while being equally compassionate and loving. I have experienced tough talk multiple times in the past few months, weeks and days. Each of these conversations has come to a peaceful resolution with love winning every time. Now I’m not saying that is always going to be the case because some people like to fight and some people must get their way at all costs. We are flawed human beings. What I am saying is that tough talk and hard conversations act as a litmus test to the level of relationship we have or think we have with individuals. Not speaking the truth in love doesn’t preserve anything, it actually prolongs negative feelings and promotes disunity and dysfunction. Leaders who are afraid of hard conversations and avoid tough talk should seriously evaluate their leadership. We cannot lead without having hard conversations and tough talk. It is absolutely impossible! Vision demands clarity and unity which only comes in hard conversations and tough talk. A leader’s vision must not be for sale, rent, lease or loan which means we will have to defend and advance the vision which will definitely lead to hard conversations and tough talk. Look at the results of speaking the truth in love. Each part ends up working properly and the body builds itself up in love. I don’t know maybe today you need to have a hard conversation and some tough talk with someone. My encouragement to you is don’t put it off. I don’t know maybe today someone has to have a hard conversation and some tough talk with you. My encouragement to you is don’t put them off. The longer we put off tough talk and hard conversations the longer we remain in disunity and the further we get away from the ultimate and perfect unity described in John 17. Trust your relationships. Test your relationships. Live the life God has intended for you with those He intended you to live with. Love hard and love well. Be truth tellers filled with compassion. Love people enough to tell them the truth and pray that God gives them the courage to love you the same way. Be honest with God and honest with them. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at the outcome and the unity that you build and share in love through tough talk and hard conversations. Be encouraged!