Confession Killers

Confession Killers

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If you want to make a confession utterly worthless, use one of these three phrases.

“I’m sorry if I’ve done something to upset you.”

When you use these words, what people hear is, “I don’t know that I’ve done anything wrong, but since you’re obviously upset, here’s a token apology to get you off my back. By the way, since I don’t see that I’ve done anything wrong, I have no idea how I may need to change. So it’s only a matter of time before I do the same thing again.”

Confession Killer thumbnail (200x200)“It wasn’t intentional.”

When you use these words, what people hear is, “I did not deliberately set out to hurt you. But since you are of little value to me, I made no deliberate effort to avoid hurting you either.”

“It wasn’t personal.”

When you use these words, what people hear is, “It wasn’t personal to me, and since we have no real relationship, it makes no difference to me that it impacted you personally.”

These are probably not the messages you intend to communicate. But if you use thoughtless words like these, you’re usually sending the message that a particular relationship is of little value to you.

Therefore, these phrases are not only confession killers but also relationship killers. Get rid of them today.

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions:

• What can you say if you sense that you’ve offended someone but truly don’t understand what you may have done wrong?

• Jesus says we will have to give an account someday even for our “careless words” (Matt. 12:36). What commandments do we violate if we speak or act thoughtlessly toward others (Matt. 7:12; Matt. 22:39; Eph. 4:29).

To learn more about how to make a thoughtful, thorough, and healing confession, see the Seven A’s of Confession.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like. If you wish to adapt the questions to better suit your group, please include a parenthetical note (Questions adapted with permission of RW360) and send a copy to

© 2013 Ken Sande

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2 Responses to "Confession Killers"
  1. Sometimes I am totally lost in navigating a conflict—so many traps and quagmires. But these key principles in making an apology are mileposts of a conflict going nowhere. If I can detect them, I should be able to realize that a deeper heart issue or heart idol is involved. Otherwise it’s guaranteed that these confession killers confirm (A) there will be no change on your part, (B) I have diminished value in your eyes, and (C) our relationship is so dysfunctional that it might not exist at all. I don’t think either of us will recover from these unresolved conflicts. From this point on, it’s pretense. While I have little control over someone else, it is sobering to think that Jesus will hold me accountable if I am the confession killer. He sounded pretty serious when he said “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matt 12:36) I definitely will need to back it up: (A) I must change, (B) I must hold you in the same high regard that Jesus does, (C) I need to make a commitment before the Lord that I will love you, in His name. Starting now.

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