I recently read an article about conversations and it left me thinking. The author wrote (in part)…
“Have you ever had one of those conversations that, even though you may not have realized it at the time, you later recognized as a life changing ‘a ha’ moment? You know, that visit over coffee with a trusted, wise friend, who helped you finally make an important decision. You probably tell people about this pivotal conversation when you talk about who you got to where you are.”
So far so good right? Bu then the author took a turn…
“What we term ‘pivotal” conversations are often overrated. They matter, but I think we significantly inflate these memorable conversations…My first conversation with (my mentor) was important mostly because it established our relationship. But it was the 10, 20, or maybe even 100 ordinary conversations we had over the years that guided me the most – like the three minute visit in the hallway, a quick phone call, or one of the many scheduled times we met to talk over coffee.”
This felt off at first, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense and I think it has application for you and I, although I am not sure it makes things “easier”. It does take the pressure off in terms of having a “big” conversation and that pressure is real. I know many people who have backed off from any kind of evangelical, missional or disciple making endeavours because they didn’t feel prepared for the one “big” conversation they imagined awaited them. So in that sense, this thought helps and most of us probably have experienced this. It wasn’t one “big” conversation, but many conversations based in meaningful relationship that were the most helpful in us finding Jesus and growing in relationship with Him. That seems to be at least part of how Jesus worked as He developed His followers with lots of conversations along the way.
So we don’t need to be ready for one “big” conversation. We do need to put ourselves in places where we will be available for those smaller, relationship based conversations. That’s where this doesn’t get “easier”. It means we will have to be available to people (we will need to be around people both inside and outside the church and building the types of relationships where good conversations become the norm and where good conversations will include Spiritual conversations). We will have to be ready to spend time with people (which means this will have to be something we build into our schedule). We will have to be prayed up (so we are ready to notice God at work and join Him in what He is up to in the lives of others). We will have to be close enough to God to hear His voice and follow His lead so we can make the most of the opportunities that present themselves (because these ordinary conversations are anything but ordinary, they are Holy Ground). This is the commission we have been giving and we need to take it seriously.
God has placed around people He wants us to reach for His sake. People He longs to have relationship with (evangelism/ mission). People He asks us to journey with (discipleship), and He asks us to be available, prayed up and ready to engage in ordinary conversations that will help people see and move towards our extraordinary Heavenly Father. Every day conversations based in relationship held over time are one of the best disciple making tools we have. Let’s be ready to engage.
Leadership Development Director, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.