Oh no! Here he comes. Here she comes. You know what I am talking about. The chatty Chris or Cathy. They are going to start a conversation that never ends. We all have someone that comes to mind when we think of a chatty Chris or Cathy, but have you ever thought that they, like us all, need genuine conversation? William Hazlitt said, “The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.” When someone approaches us to open conversation, as Christians, we must take the time to compassionately listen in order to open genuine conversations. This is a biblical principle we could all become better at. James 1:19 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” While this isn’t always easy, it is expected of us as Christians.
Time Out #1:
- When in a conversation, how do you feel when you are not heard?
- What are some cues that a person may give to you that helps you know what you are saying is being heard?
- How can we be better at following James 1:19?
Reclaiming Joy and Genuine Conversation
It has been said that a conversation needs to be a two-way street with lanes of listening and lanes of communicating. This is important to our journey of reclaiming joy. So far, we have focused on our present reality, past, and thought process. However, we haven’t opened up about our feelings yet. If we want to reclaim joy, we must understand we need community and must open genuine conversation.
O – Open Genuine Conversation
OPEN GENUINE CONVERSATION
Read Philippians 4:4–7. This passage has served as a driving factor on our journey to reclaim joy. In verse five, Paul says, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” Paul is stirring up the idea of community and celebration. However, sharing our reasonableness can also include our burdens, heartaches, and joy-robbing situations. God has created us in community for community, and we must openly lean on each other when we fill our joy slipping away.
We lean on each other by opening genuine conversation. This is done on the two-lane road of conversations: listening and communicating. If someone approaches you to talk, make sure they know you are available to discuss spiritual matters. Active listening is key. In a Forbes article, Dianne Schilling provides ten important keys to be an active listener.
How to Actively Listen from Dianne Schilling
- Face the individual and maintain eye contact.
- Be attentive, but relaxed.
- Keep an open mind.
- Listen to the individual’s words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
- Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
- Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.
- Ask questions only to ensure understanding.
- Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
- Give the speaker regular feedback.
- Pay attention to what isn’t said through nonverbal cues.
Benefits of Hearing and Being Heard
When we are quick to listen and listen well, people will know they can come to us to receive help for the burdens they bear.
Secondly, we must be open and honest with brothers and sister in Christ. God did not create us to carry our burdens alone. Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” In order to do this, someone must be willing to listen, but we must also be willing to be open and genuine. God has created us to experience emotions and emotions are not sins. Our reactions to our emotions are those things that can lead to sin or ultimately losing faith. If you find yourself in a life situation where your joy is fading, find someone you trust and begin an open, genuine conversation about what is going on. You might be surprised by the blessings God has in store for you!
- What are some qualities that an individual has that you are willing to open up to?
- How can you begin to add these qualities to your own life, so people can open up to you?
- Of the active listening skills, which one do you need to work on most? Why?
- How are you doing spiritually? Mentally?