Tool for HeartConnexion® Living
Lift the Level of Your Conversations on Purpose
A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? – James 3:5-12 The Message
Many of our daily conversations are routine and have little emotional impact. Other exchanges leave us feeling positive and uplifted or negative and downhearted. Does your contribution in those dialogs raise or lower the level of the conversation? Are you aware of how you impact conversations in your everyday experience? Would you be willing to ask for feedback?
Conversations can be lifting or depressing, engaging or alienating, imprisoning us in the past or lifting us into the future. Has anyone imprisoned your identity by the way they talk with you or about you? Do your parents still talk to you and to others about you as if you are still a young child? If so, is there any wonder that talking to them feels alienating? Does your spouse continue to bring up old, unfinished business in here-and-now conversations? Does anyone continue to speak as if you are a disappointment to him or her? Is it surprising that couples and co-workers seem locked in conflict when their conversation patterns focus on each other’s faults?
The Good News is that we get to decide whether we are going to lift or lower the level of our conversations. Jesus is a great example of lifting conversations. Recall His first meeting with Nathaniel whose prejudice about Jesus’ hometown made him ready to lower the conversation. Instead of being defensive Jesus said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.” In a single sentence, Jesus set the tone for positive relationship. Remember the woman at the well? He turned a common request for a drink of water into an eternal conversation that impacted her whole village.
What difference do individual conversations make? How did you feel the last time someone lifted a conversation with you to a positive level? What about your feelings when someone took it down? For 30 years John Woolman spoke to fellow Quaker slaveholders one-by-one and asked, “How can you justify this practice to your children?” He was not popular for raising this uneasy question, yet he did lift the level to a higher perspective and persuaded his fellow Quakers to abandon holding slaves a full 100 years before our nation would come to it.
What is your plan to intentionally lift the level of the conversations in your life?
Small Group Sharing:
- What percentage of your conversations this week was routine or negative or discouraging? Why?
- Share an example of how a recent conversation pointed out your faults or alienated you?
- Discuss how you can choose to be truthful and not defensive?
- What ways could you/can you choose to take the lead in lifting the level of conversations in your life?
- How would your life be different if you started using this tool for HeartConnexion living?
Dr. Paul D. Fitzgerald, ©2004 HeartConnexion Ministries
Adapted from Teach Your Team to Fish by Laurie Beth Jones