Years ago, a wise old couple, (picture Mr. and Mrs. Yoda) – ones who have that “non-anxious presence” that is so winsome – impacted us greatly.
Every time we came away from a conversation with them we felt like our eyes, our hearts, our spirits had been lifted to something higher. We came away feeling richer. Sometimes inspired, sometimes challenged. Sometimes with renewed vision. We started referring to these as “kingdom conversations.”
They said they had learned the quality from people before them who always seemed to be able to redirect the focus of a conversation like a boomerang, away from themselves, back to the other person and the work of God. Not in cheesy manufactured way, but it was just part of who they were.
The other day we were with a group of young friends, discussing a new acquaintance who didn’t seem to be very good at the boomerang game. Not a very good question-asker-listener. Instead, this person seemed to be a little self-absorbed (like we all can be).
It got me to thinking about kingdom conversations and what that means. When I think of the kingdom-bringers I know who have influenced us I think:
- 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 have the posture of a learner, humble before God.
- They find things to affirm. Their speech is “seasoned with grace.”
- Even when asked for advice, they limit what they say. They don’t need to share everything they know or every experience they’ve had.
- They model what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
- They don’t isolate themselves from the darkness of the world, but rather, prayerfully strive to be salt and light in those places.
Would these be marks Jesus would point to as those that define kingdom conversations? Jesus asked a lot of questions, but He also spoke the truth even when it was hard. He rocked the boat but He also calmed the storm with His words.
What do kingdom conversations sound like? Maybe like the wonder in a toddler’s voice seeing a baby robin for the first time, or the silent, peace-filled nod of a wrinkled old man who is content sitting in the warm sun. Or the excited cheer of “You can do it!” at a footrace. Perhaps there’s a tone of holy discontent and resolve to right wrongs. Maybe they’re conversations punctuated with “I’m sorry.” and “Help me understand.”
Whatever it is, I know I want more of it.
What do you think are the marks of a “kingdom conversation”?