The Greatest Ingredient in Meaningful Conversations
Let's admit it: it's not always easy to get over the, "How's it going?" starting line. You try to get in a few futile attempts at filling the space of eternal awkwardness that stands between you and your poor victim who's just there to meet Jesus.
We all long for meaningful conversations: the ones where I'm sitting across another person as we're spilling our guts and then Jesus proceeds to descend on a Starbucks in power while you intensely grip your free Venti water in hand.
Easier said than done. These conversations don't happen all the time at our ReComms, Sunday lunch fellowships, and other meetings, partly because we think they're too emotionally engaging or are only allowed to happen at retreats. Last nights of retreats.
So, what does it take to move into a meaningful conversation?
What makes any conversation meaningful (particularly spiritual ones) is our genuine concern for another person's well-being. In fact, real interest in another person's day, life, and needs always puts us in position to offer the greatest commodity in conversation: genuine concern.
This is what makes conversations so powerful; especially the passing ones.
They make all the difference in flipping a person's crummy day or adding to someone's awesome day because engaging in a meaningful conversation is our way of saying, "You matter to me."
So, here are two ways to translate your genuine concern into a meaningful conversation:
1. Discover their interests and be interested in it.
Interests can be anything from what sports they enjoy all the way to a need or struggle they're facing. And, it all starts with a simple, "So, how was your day...what do you like to do..." question that we're used to asking. The important part isn't just asking about another person's interests; it's that we stop to discover them.
You may have no care for another person's passion in cooking or someone's taste in music, but that person does care.
As a community that's committed to share Jesus's love, it's important to remember that Jesus first showed His interest for us by actually becoming a man, just like us (well, God-man to be exact). He was able to communicate not just in words, but with His life.
This doesn't mean that we need to morph into another being. It just means that, like Jesus, we can care in our conversations by stepping into someone else's shoes and finding enjoyment in what they enjoy.
2. Ask the, "What about it?" Question.
"It sounds like (interest goes here) is something you really enjoy! What about it interests you?"
"It sounds like (need goes here) is a tough obstacle right now. What about it is most difficult for you?"
Asking questions in conversation is a great way to deflect the attention from "me" to "you". When we ask a person, "What about it?" it forces us to stop and listen to what they're thinking about. We get to practice listening by thinking about the needs of another instead of the all-star response.
So, take up that pizza and cheer up! Make room for a meaningful conversation at your ReComm today by wanting to know another person. It could be that we're just trying to do for others what Jesus always does for us.