I’m going to be really honest: I’m writing this post as a challenge to myself. As an extroverted person, I love being around people and am always up for hanging out with my friends. However, I’m not always great with initiating conversation, usually preferring that others lead. When I do initiate, I tend to stick to the typical questions about work, kids, current happenings, and the like. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with “catching up,” I’ve recently had an increasing desire to deepen my everyday conversations.
As I was thinking through practical ways to change the dialogue, it occurred to me that the best starting point is Scripture. After all, there is no better place to learn about rich speech than in God’s Word! So what does the Bible say should characterize the nature of our conversations? Let’s take a look:
Our speech should be edifying and gracious. The King James version of Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” The NIV and ESV translate the word ‘edifying’ as “building up.” It’s important to note that edifying does not merely mean to give encouragement or praise (more on that in a moment) but to provide moral or intellectual instruction. Our conversations should sharpen and challenge one another as a means of ministering grace. As Colossians 4:6 says, our speech should “always be gracious and seasoned with salt.”
Our speech should focus on thanksgiving and encouragement. I daily think about the things I am thankful for in my life yet my thought to speech ratio in this category is easily 10:1. But how wonderful it would be if we allowed thanksgiving to take center stage in our conversations on a frequent basis! Ephesians 5:4 says, “ Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Along with thankfulness, we are to encourage one another in the roles and ministries God has given us so that we might strengthen one another’s faith. Acts 14:21-22 records that as Paul and Barnabas travelled they strengthened the souls of their disciples and encouraged them to continue in their faith as they suffered for Christ.
Our speech should focus on bearing burdens and prayer. As brothers and sisters in Christ we can go to one another for comfort and wise counsel. We don’t have to carry the heaviness of life alone. Instead, we can be honest about our struggles and pray for one another. This is one of the great gifts of the body of Christ! Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Likewise, James 5:16a says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
Of course there is a time and place for “catch up” conversations- they are a necessary part of life! But in light of the above points, here are some starter questions to enrich the conversations with your brothers and sisters in Christ:
What is something you are learning about right now?
What has God been teaching you?
What have you been reading right now (book wise as well as Bible study wise)?
What is something you have been thankful for lately?
How has God been answering your prayers?
How are you using your gifts to serve God (and others) now?
In what ways have you been challenged recently?
How can I be praying for you?
May we all intentionally seek and be blessed by these rich conversations.