My wife and I were having a conversation yesterday about the kinds of things that people talk about when they come together. Sports, food, clothes, other people (aka gossip), complaints, the latest Groupon deal, the funniest YouTube video, what happened on DWTS, etc. We both remarked that recently God has been putting on our hearts a desire to be much more intentional in our conversations with God’s people. The conversation started as I shared about a sister in our college group who told me how much she appreciated my intentionality with people. It was one of the nicest compliments I’d received in a long time, but it got me thinking, Why aren’t our conversations with each other more intentional? How should the way God’s people talk to each other, and more relevant to this post, the things God’s people talk about, be different from non-Christ followers? A couple things to consider:
- There’s a place for small-talk. I’m not advocating going right to the heart or trying to get deep in every conversation. However, if all of our conversations only stay at the level of, “How are you?” “Fine, and you?” “Wow, how about them Bulls!?” then I think we need to reconsider.
- Ask meaningful questions. Make sure your questions are more than just pleasantries. Don’t settle for the trite, “I’m fine” answers. Depending on the level of friendship you have with someone, you should be able to ask real questions about where someone is and how someone is doing. Don’t just assume and hope for the best. For instance, one of the questions I like to ask my married friends is, “How is your marriage? What are you learning lately?” These kinds of questions might seem a little too forward, but I think over time, the habit of asking questions like this will make sharing much deeper.
- Remember details of previous conversations. If you’ve said that you would pray, you better have prayed. And if you have prayed, you should remember what you prayed for. I think that kind of remembrance with detail goes a long way, and it fosters deeper sharing and conversation.
- Every conversation is a chance to experience the Gospel together. The most important aspect of a conversation is one in which you give and receive hope to believe and remember the Lordship of Jesus. It takes savvy and sensitivity to do so in a non-trite manner – to really listen to one another, encourage one another, and engage one another such that when you part company, you have felt the presence of the living Jesus in your midst.
- Encourage. Encourage. Encourage. We live in a society that’s constantly about performance, assessment, and critique. What if our conversations with other brothers and sisters were filled with observations of the beautiful, God-presence, things in each other’s lives?