In our journey of healing, growth, transformation, and even sanctification (the process of being freed from sin), it’s easy to become fixated on the idea of correction. We often prioritize fixing what’s broken, addressing flaws, and striving for perfection, in ourselves and others. However, during our pursuit of improvement, we may overlook one essential element: connection.

Connection before correction is a principle deeply rooted in compassion, understanding, and empathy. It is restorative in nature. It’s a reminder that before we rush to correct, we must first seek to connect—to truly understand the heart and the humanity of those we wish to guide or help.

Think about a tree in need of pruning. Before the shears touch a single branch, the skilled gardener takes a moment to understand the tree’s growth patterns, its strengths, and its vulnerabilities. Similarly, in our interactions with others, we must take the time to cultivate a genuine connection before attempting any form of correction.

Jesus often prioritized building relationships with people before addressing their behavior. He dined with tax collectors and sinners, listened to their stories, and offered them love and acceptance before guiding them toward a path of righteousness.

In our daily lives, practicing connection before correction requires acceptance, patience, humility, and a willingness to set aside our preconceived judgments. It means approaching others with an open heart and a genuine desire to truly love another and understand their perspectives, experiences, and struggles.

Imagine a parent-child relationship. When a child misbehaves, the instinctual response might be to correct their behavior immediately. However, by pausing to connect with the child—to listen to their feelings, fears, and motivations—we not only deepen our bond with them but also lay a foundation for effective and compassionate guidance. This can be challenging. We must stay connected to the vine, abiding, and remaining in Jesus to produce this type of fruit. (See John 15.)

In addition, prioritizing connection before correction fosters an environment of trust and safety. When people feel seen, heard, and valued, they are more receptive to feedback and more willing to embark on journeys of accountability and self-improvement.

Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of connection before correction in the story of the adulterous woman found in John 8:3-11. Jesus, of course, knew the woman’s sin as she stood before him in public shame and humiliation. But more than seeing her sin, He saw her. And connecting with her through love was His priority.

The Pharisees only saw what was on the surface—her sinful behavior. They didn’t care to know how she found herself in that position or seek to understand. Instead, they called her out and sought her death, completely ignoring their own sin of judgment and pride. I wonder how many of them were adulterers.

We don’t know why the woman chose a sinful path, but there’s almost always a reason a person chooses darkness over light. And it is exactly what Jesus cares about; and the reason He came. John 3:17 teaches us that Jesus laid His life down, not to judge and correct the world, but to save it. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus made a way for us to connect with God, and He with us. And out of that connection, we can find healing in the love of His correction.

Remember that behind every mistake, every flaw, and every misstep, there is a person with a story. As we navigate our relationships and interactions, let us strive to prioritize empathy over judgment, understanding and acceptance over condemnation, and connection over correction. May we seek to connect before we correct, like Jesus.

This is a profound expression of love, respect, and human dignity. In John 13:34-25, Jesus says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

By embracing this commandment, we not only lift and empower others but also nurture the seeds of compassion and kindness within ourselves. The result? We become more like Christ, and others are drawn to Him through us.


SHERIDAN CORREA is a Trauma-Informed Biblical Counselor. She’s a follower of Jesus, wife, mother of two teenage boys, singer, and avid runner who has been radically changed by Jesus. She is VL’s director of content development.