How do we approach conversation? Is it just a means of exchanging information? Letting our opinions be made known? Are we trying to help others? Broaden our understanding? Do we go at it with no purpose–or with a self-serving one? If you’re anything like me, the answer is simply “yes”–we use conversation for all those things.
But how SHOULD we use and approach it?
After having some truly amazing conversations over the weekend with friends we don’t see nearly enough, I realized anew that conversation can be so much more than we usually allow it to be. Think for a moment about the power of our spoken words–the very things God used to create the universe. The very thing John calls Jesus. The very means Jesus himself used to express Truth to the world.
How often do we use it for that purpose? Sometimes (I hope, ha ha). But enough? I know I don’t.
But as I contemplated WHY I find myself falling into the comfortable, routine, surface conversations more often than not, I realized that this isn’t what I want to do.
I want to actually know what you think, believe, feel about things.
I want to know where our thoughts merge and where they digress.
I want to know why they digress.
I want to let my understanding grow based on what you teach me.
I want you to know that you have taught me.
I want to be able to share with you anything I’ve learned that might help you.
I want you to leave a conversation with me knowing that I heard you and value your words.
I want us both to walk (or tab, if it’s online) away with that certainty that the Lord was in our words.
I want, most of all, for our conversation to lift us both closer to Him.
I want our conversations to change me.
We need to be elevators. Not the metal box that transports our bodies upward in a building–but the spiritual equivalent. We need to use our words to lift others–and ourselves–closer to the Most High.
How do we do that?
I’ve been pondering that question all week. In part, it’s by teaching, when that’s appropriate. But it isn’t always, is it? What about when we’re talking to someone older, wise, and more educated? Is there just no way to elevate them?
I don’t think that’s the case. Because I think the true way to lift ourselves and others toward God in conversation is this: to ask good questions. To actually listen to the answers. And to adjust our thoughts accordingly.
That last part is key–the greatest conversation means absolutely nothing if both parties walk away and dismiss it. We have to let it change us. Change our opinions, our approach to a subject, our actions. We have to be willing to be the clay if we want the Potter to continue shaping us daily–and conversations with others is a way He’s done this throughout the ages.
Now, we can’t control whether other people will change–but we can control ourselves. And if we model it, if we demonstrate that they had a real effect on us, if we make it clear to them that we took their words into account and adjusted accordingly, they’re going to be more likely to do the same. Because it will allow us all to lower our defenses. And that’s where real change can occur.
This works whether we’re the teacher or the pupil. The shepherd or the flock. It works whether we’re talking about how to convince the world to entertain ideas about God or about our kids’ interests. It works if we’re talking about fashion, and it works if we’re talking about salvation. Why? Because it shows the other person that we value them, it gives us both the opportunity to entertain new ideas, and it lets the love of Christ Shine through us. It builds relationship.
This is a challenge I’m making to myself. I want to start THINKING about the conversations I engage in, and I want to be deliberate about how I participate in them. I want to always be looking for what I can learn from them, and also for places where I can share the truths of God’s love that He’s shown me. I want my conversations to reach for something higher than myself.
Words are some of the most powerful things the Lord has given us–and some of the most ill-used. Let’s change that.
How do you lift others toward Him in YOUR conversations?