Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why purpose driven conversation?

You've heard of the purpose driven church, the purpose driven life, but what about the purpose driven conversation? I'd like to coin this phrase.

I have discovered that I'm a person who requires very purposeful conversation. I really don't like just shooting the breeze. This has just become really clear to me recently. I can't believe I didn't notice this before. I have an insatiable desire for discussions that really make a point, and little if not a non-existent need for small talk.

I am bored to pieces when people talk about the weather...

a sports score...

and most of the time when they share something fictional.

There are so many real things to talk about that are absolutely fascinating and life changing, I see little or no reason to create idle chatter. There are always a zillion interesting, intriguing and completely captivating things to talk about that I don't want to squander precious moments sharing the latest knock-knock joke. I have too many real funny stories swimming around in my head that are real and actually more funny. Take what happened at church just a few years ago...

My husband was preaching a great message called, "Sharpen your ax." Okay, I know you can already see where this is headed, right? Well, the message really was awesome. All was going well til' the end. During the altar calll, he got real excited and he was pacing back and forth, giving this great anointed invitation, calling for a response from the people. And then he shouts, "Church, if you want God to sharpen your #$%, get up to this altar!" Obviously he slipped and said something else instead of "ax". Of course it was purely accidental, and he was so terribly embarrassed, and I didn't help matters. Many people were laughing of course and I just couldn't help it myself. I was trying so hard not to laugh out of respect for him...not even to crack a smile, but it was impossible. After church I couldn't resist telling him, "honey, I came right to the altar, and stayed there for the longest time, but...still no change..." I don't think he's ever forgiven me for saying that to him. (smile)

This photo above is of me and my friend, Joy Conley, pastor's wife from Harvest Assembly of God in Lakeland. Here we were having coffee and chatting in the afternoon at a conference we both spoke at. We were grabbing on to every precious moment we had to share our hearts with one another. She's one of my favorite people to talk to. It's not that I always want to be serious in my conversations. I love to share funny church stories, but I guess I just have an insatiable quest for realness whether the conversation be funny or serious. I enjoy comedians who tell real stories, and when sharing with friends over a cup of coffee, I enjoy discussing pastoral ministry, leadership, true church stories, the war in Iraq, discipleship, mentoring, and and an endless supply of other things.

Typically when people are talking about non-sensical things it would take absolutely no brain power to discuss, my mind wanders to other things that are meaningful.

In all the writing I've done, I have never written anything fictional since about the third grade when I was forced to do it for a school assignment. So many true things are fascinating, I see no need to tap into a fantasy storehouse to think of something stimulating to say. It's all right here, a plethora of things to arrest the imagination.

Sharing tea with two minister friends, Sheri and Sharon on Tuesday is a prime example of this. We shared non-stop conversation for four hours. We never entertained a fictional topic or grasped for small insignificant chatter to keep the conversation going. In fact, at some point we just had to bring the afternoon to a close even though we had so many more interesting things to talk about.

I have often heard the advice given to prepare to be a great conversationalist by memorizing a few jokes or stories one can tell to break the ice in talking to someone you don't know, or in warming up a crowd. I couldn't disagree more. I believe people are the most interesting thing on the planet. Each person we talk to has history. They all have great things to share about themselves. Most people have just never been asked. Because of that, some are uncomfortable opening up right away, but I have found that if you are genuinely interested in people and keep asking in the right way, most will begin to open up, if ever so slowly.

Tonight we had a missionary guest at church - Diane Oliver. Before the service I met her for the first time. Upon greeting her in Sanctuary B room before service, I simply started asking her questions about herself, about her call, her life in Northern Asia, and all kinds of other stuff. There was not a lull or a dull moment in our conversation. I believe the best way to become a great conversationalist is to ask people questions about themself, and then springboard off of that onto life issues. It hasn't failed me yet. I truly believe it's the easiest thing in the world to talk to people you've never met. Just ASK THEM ABOUT THEMSELVES.

I've had thousands of purpose driven conversations, and I'm really convinced...it's the way to go. I'll take it any day over... "Two guys walk into a bar, and the one guy says to the other..."

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