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?