Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.
Listen. Ask questions. Repeat. Keep repeating, until a question comes back. That’s conversation, right?
Wrong. I often stewed in bored frustration over dinner with friends who seemed incapable of asking me questions. Talk stayed firmly within the realm of the general, the polite, and the Netflix (‘It’s just sooooo good – you HAVE to see it’). Despite working twice as hard as everyone else round the table to get conversation going, by the end of the evening I’d have zoned out in a grump.
I sought pity from my wife, who expertly outmanoeuvred my wounded ego to offer a wise rebuke: why not take some responsibility and actually participate in the conversation, instead of facilitating it?
I suddenly realised: I was a better interviewer than I was a conversation partner. And it was safer that way. I’d listen and ask questions because wagering anything personal would leave me vulnerable: someone might laugh or yawn or disagree.
Jesus models a braver and better way.
After walking with the Emmaus travellers, asking them questions, and listening to their version of the story, it’s Jesus’ turn to speak. And he makes the most of it. In fact, Jesus pulls no punches: he calls them foolish and slow. Then he gives them the best Bible commentary ever.
I’m not advocating that we copy-and-paste Jesus’ words in this moment into our own conversations. Rather, notice how Jesus is brave enough to add to the conversation something weighty, personal, even disagreeable.
And the travellers are left wanting more.
Might I be brave enough to offer something into my conversations that leaves others wanting more?
A senior manager recently shared with me his team away-day experience: divide a piece of paper into four, in each quarter write one thing that deeply matters to you, then share with the team.
The manager wrestled with how appropriate it was to write ‘Jesus’ in one box – he didn’t want to undo months of trust-building if perceived to be sneaking an evangelistic pitch into a team-building exercise. But, he decided to go with it.
His colleagues reacted warmly. In fact, they weren’t at all surprised. One appreciated how ‘wholesome’ this revelation was. It made sense to them, given the kindness and integrity their manager modelled to them.
That’s a picture of what it can mean to be brave in our conversations: choosing to offer something of ourselves, despite the risk, and seeing what happens.
Head of Innovation, LICC
What would Jesus have you add into one of your conversations today, that could leave the people on your frontline wanting more? Join the conversation below.