A proud person will soon be ruined, but a humble person will be honored. Let people finish speaking before you try to answer them. That way you will not embarrass yourself and look foolish. A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed? Wise people want to learn more, so they listen closely to gain knowledge. – Proverbs 18:12-15
I’d like to imagine – when I sit down to write my daily reflections – that I’m meeting with two or three of you over coffee, maybe on the porch or around a kitchen table, and we simply talk about our lives, a verse of scripture, what we’re wrestling with, what God has been teaching us lately, that sort of thing.
It’s something I try to do with people from our church on a regular basis. I meet guys at my favorite Wake Forest coffee shop, sometimes we’ll schedule breakfast or lunch, and we just talk. Not shooting the breeze, but conversations of substance, and faith, and struggle, and moving forward.
Essentially, this is the model I use for men’s ministry. We try to keep the groups a manageable size so conversation can flow. But at the heart of what we do we’re a bunch of guys sitting around talking about what it means to follow Jesus. We pray, we read scripture, sometimes we have a book we peruse during the week to inform our thinking, and we try to be honest about who we are and who we are becoming as disciples.
Sometimes our meetings are startlingly profound and it’s easy to sense the excitement build as we share from our hearts and encourage one another, then sometimes our times together are just settled and reassuring. But always, without fail, the guys are both steadied in their faith and readied in their walk – a little more equipped to be the hands and feet of Jesus as they move out into the world.
steadied in their faith and readied in their walk
This world is starved for good conversation:
I’d like to encourage all of my readers to become part of such a “covenant group” in your church (men’s, women’s, mixed…) as well as to be faithful in worship. But it’s more those casual “coffee and life” get-togethers I’m really pushing in this post. You see I believe this world is starved for good conversation, and especially honest dialog between people who do not have to agree on everything before they can begin to listen.
I’m afraid that – by and large – we don’t know each other. We know the strident, extreme, uncompromising, stake-out-a-position views other people hold; but we don’t listen to one another’s hearts and we don’t present our own hearts as wide-open and willing to learn.
So much of social media is anything but social. It’s either echo-chamber “opinionating” or it’s about polarization and driving wedges between us.
A Huge Truth I’ll Own:
This is the truth: I have a huge amount to learn about absolutely everything.
I’ve said many of the following things before but I’m not sure that many people understand exactly what I mean:
- “I disagree with myself on a regular basis…”
- “I am wrong easily as often as I am right…”
- “If I’m not learning then I’m not really alive (spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, socially)…”
- “When I listen to people who don’t agree with me then my chance of understanding truth about a given topic increases exponentially…”
- “Be suspicious of any one or any organization that claims to have the answers down pat…”
This is why we need to invest more time in actual conversations with real people. This is why we need to ask good questions and then listen with open hearts. This is why we need to park our screens once in a while, shake hands with other human beings, sit down and relearn the art of graceful conversation, and engage all the interactions of our lives with more honest questions than trite answers.
Humility, vulnerability, and wide-open hearts may well be the cure for the malaise that runs so deep and so wide in our culture.
Your humility, vulnerability, and wide-open heart is the only place where the healing can begin.
Peace, and a shared cup of coffee (maybe make it a cappuccino) – DEREK