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Monday, August 04, 2008

What's a Conversation?

We had been looking forward to dinner with R. for a long time. We shared a number of loves: travel, food, wine, France, art, etc. The day came and we went to the restaurant. The ambience was perfect; quiet, relaxed. The food was excellent. But I noticed a hurry in R's voice. There was an agenda of things R needed to share with us; a list R needed to get through; topics R needed to cover, as if we were an outline that needed to be followed with items checked off when completed.
None of the topics was off-center. In fact it was a very intriguing and engaging conversation. We talked into all sorts of interesting tangents, but were quickly pulled back by R who wanted to get onto something else on the list.
The question: what drives your conversations? Can they wander and roam? Are there off-limit mine-fields that you dare not enter for fear of an explosive reaction (politics, a divorce, a former "bad guy" on the list, etc)? Does the other person ask you questions and wait for your answer? Do you ask other people questions and then listen? Is there a joyful mystery about where a conversation can go or a predetermined outcome?
Clearly I wonder what quality of conversations we have in church? How do we foster an environment that lends itself to real conversations versus talking contests? A former denominational leader used to see me and say "Don, so good to see you" and then regale me about his latest achievements and quickly move on. I often wished he would have said, "Don, so good to hear you, tell me what God is doing in your life" and then sit still and listen. Who listens to you?

2 Comments:

At 1:06 PM , Blogger Matt said...

This makes me think of something Kevin Spacey said in 'The Big Kahuna':

"If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are - just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it's not a conversation anymore; it's a pitch. And you're not a human being; you're a marketing rep."

 
At 9:09 PM , Anonymous Rahab said...

Gosh....this one is a tuff one; but, actually a "Secret" as to "who listens to my intent conversations"...It could be a reader on a Blog; and for truthfully commenting back with rich wordings... or it's the "secret master" in my Garden.....or shhhhh , can't tell..... But, when responding of how we listen in a church setting to a parishionors needs-or a trouble shoot given-and ignored... too a definate degree. We have too ponder and pray that due to our fallen world it seems as if "no one" can hear...no one tries too listen....no one really prays as they say the will for others--- either. Why bother... It's creepy actually; and becoming a drastic hinderence to our world. Innocent people are falling through the cracks..."never really too be heard". It's more about a fight, rather than living a Jesus kind of "Real Life"...there is none.. or should I say ...not too many any more...a fallenness of listening and loving is almost non-existent at all...and I believe that Our God is furious.. and hurt......"R"
Listening without fighting: One would think they could do; but rather ..."they must be right" and put on that imagineable false pride.....listening....there is none....so why not Blog"-it's more fun...richer too say the least!!! Rahab

 

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