Christian Conversation (4)
Welcome to the PMF Workshop for May 2023. I’m your host, T. M. Moore. Each month we provide teaching, encouragement, activities, and resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field so that you can become more consistent and effective in realizing the presence, promise, and power of God’s Kingdom in your daily life.
This month’s Workshop is Part 4 in a series on conversation, one of the key disciplines we use in working our Personal Mission Field. Conversation, as we have seen, is a learned art, and we must be willing to learn it. It’s important that we keep in mind that all our conversations take place in a larger context, one that is always moving toward the far horizon of the Presence of God. To do this, we’ll want to make sure our conversations are as godly as we can make them. This month’s workshop is entitled, “Godly Conversation”, and our text is Colossians 4.6: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Gotta work at it!
The Scriptures have a great deal to say about the way we use our tongues. The Bible provides clear guidelines for nurturing a conversational style that is considerate, consistent, clear, and excellent in quality; that engages others in ways that encourage ongoing conversations; and that can allow us to bring the very character and Presence of God into our conversations in convincing ways.
But such conversation doesn’t come naturally to us. Even Jesus, an excellent conversationalist at age 12, continued to grow in favor with men and, presumably, in His ability to converse with them.
We need to study and practice the art of Christian conversation, pray daily for God’s help and equipping, practice often with our Christian friends, and pay careful attention to each conversation in which we become involved, so that we do not squander opportunities for honoring God with our speech (Eph. 5.15-17).
Listening well, and more
As I mentioned previously, the first component for the kind of conversational style that honors God is that we become good listeners (Jms. 1.19). Good listeners look their conversation partners in the eye and respond meaningfully to their comments. They ask questions, and follow-up with other questions, to understand their conversation partners and draw them more deeply into the conversation. The believer will not allow himself to become angry, even when his own views are attacked; instead, he will continue listening and trying hard to understand the views of those with whom he is conversing.
Becoming a good listener is half the battle in learning to become an engaging and God-honoring conversationalist. Other aspects of godly conversation include politely refusing to engage in things vulgar or crude (Eph. 5.4). Others may find these topics interesting or amusing, but the Christian must not. We live on a higher plane, we are ambassadors of a more noble Kingdom, and we travel in the Presence of the risen, holy Christ. Our conversation will only be godly when it reflects His Presence and character.
We must also concentrate to maintain a soft and respectful tone of voice in our conversations (Prov. 15.1; 2 Tim. 2.24, 25). Shouting, sniping, and ridiculing others are all out of the question, although well-meaning raillery is at times appropriate.
We speak with the intention of building others up and pointing their minds toward eternal verities (Eph. 4.29). We must pay attention in conversations and be alert to every opportunity for injecting a word of grace or truth into our conversations according to the topic or moment that may arise (Lk. 4.22; Eph. 5.15-17).
People found Jesus’ words hard to resist. He was patient, loving, firm, down-to-earth, wise, and open to being challenged. He never tried to dazzle or impress, but was economical in His speech, and always used His words to draw people out beyond the limits of their experience or knowledge and lead them to consider the possibilities of life in a new Kingdom, where righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit are the order of the day (Rom. 14.17-19).
Our conversations will be more Christ-like and Kingdom-oriented to the extent that our demeanor in conversation reflects that of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We don’t always have to be speaking to be good conversationalists; but when we do speak, let’s make sure our words are salted with grace. Salt preserves whatever is good against whatever might corrupt, and it brings out the savor of good things, making them better. Salt also makes us thirst for refreshment.
The more we can salt our conversations with the character of Christ and the presence of His Kingdom, as well as His concern for every lost soul, the more our conversations will reach the souls of those with whom we speak.
And who knows what God might do once our words have begun to lodge there?
Here are some activities you can practice and some resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field.
- Again, make sure your Personal Mission Field is updated, and you have included in your Personal Mission Field worksheet any new people God has brought into your sphere. Keep your map with you, so you can take it out and pray for the people you see throughout the day.
- In your next conversation, try looking your conversation partner in the eyes. Listen carefully, making mental notes of important points to remember.
- Pray about this conversation, asking God what you can do to renew and continue it at the next earliest opportunity. Be ready when that opportunity arises.
- Continue making a point to speak to every person in your Personal Mission Field as often as the opportunity arises. Greet them by name. Ask about their wellbeing. Pick up on a previous conversation. Ask for a prayer request.
- Order a free copy of our book, Small Stuff. Here you’ll be encouraged to consider how every small thing in your life – gestures, helps, and conversations – can be used by God to bless others and glorify Himself. Order your free copy by clicking here.
That’s it for this month’s Personal Mission Field Workshop. Until next month, for the Fellowship of Ailbe, this has been T. M. Moore.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.