Transformative Power of Conversations

I believe in the transformative power of conversation.  My life is a testament to that power.  I am the sum of my conversations.

But transformative conversations don’t just happen.  Like any other skill it can be learned, but again, it takes practice.

The practice begins with seeking those who share your passions.  Shared passion makes good conversation.  Little or no passion makes small talk.

Ask questions that matter, and listen to the answers with your whole attention.

Trust the person you’re talking to, until they give you a good reason not to.

Reveal yourself to them.

Bring people with a shared passion together.

Learn how to share the conversational space.

Talk about your passion in the context of your faith.  How do they inform each other?  How do they inform the others in your group?

Allow those who think differently from you, whether about your passions or your faith, to deepen your perspective.  Try to think and feel from within their skin.  See the world through their eyes.

Wrestling with God is not enough.  We need to hear what he says in the mouths of others.  We need to wrestle with ideas in the context of the group, not to win an argument, but to gain understanding.

Wrestling turns to polishing.  We gain perspective, understanding, and self-awareness.  We are blessed by the conversation, and bless others in our turn.  We grow rich with ideas, depth of perception, and positive emotional connectedness.

Gradually you find yourself transformed, not by a brutal hammer and chisel, but through the slow and gentle washing of water by the word of God – through the mouth of a friend.

The Social Creation and Transfer of Knowledge

Nothing for me has been more fecund of ideas or joy than merely sitting down with someone I trust to discuss ideas we both care about.

Are you looking for ideas?  Maybe it’s time to have a talk with a friend who shares your passions.

Even so, how hard it can be to pick up the phone to call someone who once blessed us with their conversation.  It’s just so much easier to continue moving in the direction we were going, than it is to pause and reflect with a friend.

Ironically perhaps, such conversations are particularly fertile when participants come at an idea from different points of view.  If we can listen to each other, and put aside our need to be right, then the conversation will begin to weave a beautiful dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and finally if we are patient, will at last give birth to synthesis; a new idea right before our eyes, unlooked for, surprising us all.

Too few times I’ve made notes from such conversations.  Boswell’s Life of Johnson was little more than a collection of such notes.  We accumulate possessions that clutter our lives with bother without collecting the true treasures that fall in our way.  We find a precious gem over coffee with a friend, and then lightly cast it aside when we’re done.

But I am learning.  God has been teaching me the true value of things, ideas, and people; and I have been listening.  The kingdom of heaven dwells within you, and between you.