Jump Start # 2026
Luke 15:28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.”
Our verse today comes from the end of the powerful prodigal son parable. A wonderful day, because the prodigal finally came home, turns sour because the elder brother refused to accept and forgive his brother. The elder brother represents the Pharisees and the scribes who were grumbling at the beginning of this chapter because Jesus ate with sinners. They stood with the elder brother.
Among all the great lessons layered in this parable we find one of having a hard conversation with someone. The father went out to the elder brother. He left the celebration to convince the elder brother to join them. It is in the shoes of the father, having those hard conversations, that we want to look at today.
There are many forms of these difficult conversations and they happen all throughout our lives:
- Parents must have them with their children. It’s more than the grades, it’s their behavior, attitude and the choices that they are making. It’s who they are hanging out with. It’s the time they are spending on social media. Often these conversations become a test of the wills and too many times leads to a battle.
- The spiritual, according to Galatians, was to restore one caught in a trespass (6:10).
- The Lord said that if someone sinned against us that we were to go to that person and show him his fault (Mt 18:15).
- A factious man was to be warned, not only once, but twice. If he continued his course, he was to be rejected (Titus 3:10).
- In a marriage, one’s behavior may be hurting the other. They may not realize it. A conversation must take place.
- There is a time when grown children must have a conversation with a parent about moving into assisted living. The parent doesn’t want to go and the parent doesn’t feel that it’s needed.
- An employee has to have a conversation with his boss about unethical practices at the company. No one else seems to be bothered by what is going on. He doesn’t want to be seen as a whistle blower, but he can not continue to participate in things he feels are wrong.
- A friend is making wrong choices. They are flirting with someone that they are not married to. You seem to be the only one who sees red flags. You feel compelled to say something.
- As a member in a congregation, you see the leadership making choices that are not wise and more than that, they are not Biblical. They are in violation of Scripture. Everyone else seems to go along with it, but you. Something has to be said. It seems to fall to you to speak to them.
All of these situations involve having a tough conversation. It’s not easy. These things keep us up at night. We think about what and how to say things. We imagine the conversations in our minds. We are scared because we know things may not be taken well. In some of these situations, a friendship may end, a job may be lost, you may be asked to leave a congregation, you may the bad guy in the family. We often want someone else to have this conversation, but there is no one. No one in the church steps up. No one in the family steps up. No one. Why me, you wonder. Why do I have to be the one to have this conversation?
It is easy to talk about these things to others, rather than going to the person we truly need to talk to. We sometimes drag our feet with these things. We hope that someone else will do it for us. But sooner or later, we recognize that if we don’t say something, nothing will change. Most of us have had many of these conversations. Each time, it’s hard. You’d think after a while, it gets easier, it really doesn’t. Here are some things to keep in mind.
First, your love for the Lord, and what is right and that person is what compels you to say something. It often can seem like you are on their case, but you are driven by love. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t say anything. You care, and for that reason, you can’t remain silent. It is good to remember that and to express that. We are saying what we are saying, because we want the best for you.
Second, find the right time and place for this discussion. Turn the TV off. Get a setting that will allow you time. This isn’t a drive-by conversation. The person you are talking to will most likely reject what you say at first. They will dig their heels in and defend themselves. They may even counter attack you. They need to time to hear what you are saying. Speak clearly. Speak kindly. Repeat. Be specific. Give evidence. Don’t threaten. Don’t go in with guns blazing. Your attempt is to make things better. Your goal is to save and help someone.
Third, pray. Pray before you go. Pray as you speak. Pray as they speak back. Pray for right words, open hearts and God’s help. Pray that you do not come across as arrogant or a know-it-all. The person may turn the subject on you. They may try to dodge the issue and switch subjects. Don’t chase rabbits in the conversation. Stick to the issue at hand. Don’t destroy the person and don’t attach the person. Deal with what is wrong and present ways to make things better. Your tone and your spirit has much to do with this. Going in angry, will produce the same response in return. No one likes to be attacked. No one likes to feel that they are being ganged up on. Keep before you the golden rule. How would you want someone to come to you?
Fourth, be careful in making demands. If we have been hurt, we may demand an apology. You probably won’t get a genuine one that way. We can demand a change of action. That may not happen. Walk them through what can make things better. Help them come to the conclusion that you have. Don’t make this all about you. Put the Lord, His word, what is right, in your lineup of reasons why one needs to change. In a you vs. me situation, we often will lose. However, when the battle is between what is best or right vs. them, the discussion takes on a higher level.
Fifth, be patient. We’d love for things to turn after one conversation. Sometimes they do. Many times they don’t. A person has to let what you said stir around in their head and heart. They have to see that you care about them. It may take a while to see results. Keep praying. Keep caring. There may be follow up discussions.
The father went out to his son and began pleading for him to come in. Did the elder son listen? Did he go in? Was the father convincing? The parable ends. The parallel to the Pharisees and the life of Jesus didn’t go so well. Many of them were not convinced. Many would not follow. Many turned to crucify Jesus. But there were some. Paul was one who believed. He listened and was convinced.
Many of us are stubborn. It’s hard to move us. It’s hard to convince us and change us. You realize the difficulties that are faced when having those hard conversations with others.
I hope these thoughts help. As we journey on, there will be more and more difficult conversations, and “come to Jesus” talks, as we commonly express those things. Shepherds of God’s people must be able to do this. It’s part of what they do. They care and that’s why they try to get some of us away from dangers in life.
Love, courage and faith is what drives us to go out and plead with others to come in.