One of the amazing blessings of my life is that John serves on the World Vision International Board and I get to tag along as he travels with them. Seeing new places and learning about new cultures is enriching, but I also get to spend time with remarkable, godly people I admire! This week we’ve been in London and Windsor with these friends.
One of the things I notice is the power of a mantra my friend Sharon repeats often: “Words matter.” Too many, too few (a compliment left unshared), life-giving words, words of gratitude or complaint. Our words can be the thermostat that sets the temperature of a conversation. If God is noting the temperature I set with my words, I’m wondering how often it would be set at “foot in mouth”, or “insensitive”, “self-centered”, or “gossipy”.
Sitting at lunch yesterday my friend Helen didn’t just let the conversation drift. She asked the seven women around the table, (all of us new acquaintances) to share what one of our passions is.
After the first person spoke, another woman at the table suggested that we pray for each person after they shared. What could have been nice chit-chat became a lovely, richer time of fellowship because these two women took the opportunity to set the temperature of our conversation, creating a God-honoring environment.
Whether it’s our friends on the board here, or mentors elsewhere, some of the things I’ve observed about Jesus followers who know that words matter are:
- They listen really well. They are present and will sift through the extraneous and pick up on the important heart issues.
- They ask good questions.
- They find things to affirm. Their speech is “seasoned with grace.”
- Even when asked for advice, they limit what they say. (This one is a huge one for me to learn from!!)
- They model what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
What is it that you think makes the difference between conversations that lift our minds and those that lower them?