Friday, September 7, 2012

Developing mature conversation

"Whatcha doin'?" he asked me. "Up to anything?" It was a passing conversation. We didn't know each other well.

"Doing fine. How about you?" I answered.

In contrast, a friend and I talked this morning about personal things and what's going on in our families and friendship circles. We ran out of time before "talking ministry" but we'll get there, maybe next visit. Our hour of interaction flew by. We have some catching up to do, though we read each others' blogs and stay in touch via FB or email.

How do you go from fluffy, inconsequential chit-chat to mature conversation that can "say anything" to a trusted friend?
  1. Fill your life with wisdom, reading scripture and hearing God's instruction. Hang out with wise mentors and reliable characters.
  2. Start light and exercise discernment. Don't spill your guts to every passerby or "cast pearls before swine." Other people won't take you seriously or trust you if your words are indiscreet.
  3. Listen to others' conversations. How do people you respect speak? What do they say? What would they never say? Imitate the wise and respected.
  4. Build on friendships and collegiality: which ones have proved trustworthy and have begun to share their lives with you?
  5. Pray about who can be trusted and watch how people handle their friends' confidences and secrets. 
  6. Tell something safe but private. Ask the person to keep it between you. If it comes back "around the gossip bench," ask your confidant if they shared with others. If so, don't share again, especially if there is no remorse or if the exposure was a deliberate "slip of the tongue." They can't be trusted.
  7. Keep other people's secrets to yourself. Gossip is saying something about a person that you wouldn't say if they were standing next to you. Sure, go ahead, brag on others' "job well done." Boost them in conversation with others. But unless it's immoral or illegal (or dangerous to the situation), guard others' weaknesses and failures.
Jesus told his closest friends many secrets about God and himself. But he kept himself apart from those who weren't trustworthy. He was friendly but not exposed to everyone. Maturity comes from following his example.

Read more:
*In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you. Isaiah 26:8

*When we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:32

*Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten.

No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of Godhis plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 NLT
Moravian Prayer: When you see fit to judge us, God, help us to remember your love and grace. Call to our minds the redemptive purposes of your discipline and the promise of eternal life. Thank you for training us so we shall forever be your children. Amen.