God, give me grace to guard my lips from speaking what is wrong (Psalm 141:3).
Talking is my livelihood. There are three ways that I ruin a conversation:
1. I talk too much about myself.
Conversations should be back and forth. A great conversation should be 50 percent you and 50 percent them. Some of my greatest conversations have been 30 percent me and 70 percent them.
To eliminate this, I ask questions. I try to ask two or three questions at the beginning of a conversation. It sets the tone of “them” not “me.”
2. I turn the conversation back to me.
I’m too good at this. Someone describes a difficulty they experienced and I say, “That’s terrible, I went through the same thing.” Then 70 percent of the conversation becomes my problem.
The Spirit now puts a hindrance in my thoughts when I switch a conversation. It sounds something like, “Stop that!” Not audible words, but clearly God.
I now pray in the morning to be led by the Spirit and not my desire to talk about myself.
1. I take umbrage.
HHHHMMMHHM – umbrage. It means that I get upset at something said to me.
In every conversation, something critical of you, something with which you disagree, or something blatantly untrue, will be said. Calm yourself. Don’t let the devil of defensiveness take over.
Now the “serene” you speaks grace – returning a compliment for insult, deflecting for peace, or even agreeing with them (if it is true).
Great conversations end in grace.
It is a discipline of the Spirit to converse while sensing the Spirit within. When I am “aware myself of the Spirit’s presence,” I get a sense of what the conversation is about and how to respond in truth and love.
The culture emphasizes “telling your story” – or talking about yourself.
Conversations aren’t about us but about Jesus. In each conversation, as representatives of Christ, we plant seeds of His kingdom. I try to start each conversation by asking God, “Let me sense what You want me to say.”
I still talk too much, change the storyline to myself, and get upset at something said.
Last week a man in his 30s came up to me and said, “When I was a teenager you told me that I could do anything that I wanted to do. I’ve never forgotten what you said. It has given me a lot of confidence.”
I didn’t remember the conversation. Evidently, it was one of my best!
However, I do remember my biology teacher in high school saying to me – after I received, in my case, an almost extinct A+: “You know, Grant, if you focus more, you can do anything that you want to do.”
One of her best conversations. I doubt if she remembered it. I did and I repeat it often.