Thursday, March 1, 2007

Discipleship and Ping-Pong

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19

In my last blog I spoke about the difference between a fire hydrant and a glass of water. The point I was trying to make was the importance of being slow to speak and making sure we do not overwhelm the people whom we are conversing with.

This blog is related to that previous one. This one however deals not only with being slow to speak but the importance of being quick to listen as well.

Have you ever been around people who only talk about themselves and/or the topic(s) that they are interested in? After a while being around them is boring.

Good conversationalists know that the key is to engage the person you are talking to, much like playing ping-pong. You want to make sure that when you hit the ball over the net the other person can and wants to hit it back to you.

Sometimes people over talk or send out too many balls at one time the other person does not know how to respond. They may be impressed and entertained by the amount of knowledge we have but not for long. We need to be slow to talk and quick to listen.

One of the best ways to do that is to ask the right questions. You'd be surprised at how much people talk if you could find the topic they want to talk about and allow them.

I remember a man who would not talk to me until I brought up gardening because of something he mentioned and he never stopped talking. Other triggers may be about watches, pets, tennis, cooking, their children.... the key is finding their interest.

People need and want to be heard. By engaging them “in a game of ping-pong” we get to know them better. By listening well we will be able to know how to best minister to people. We also earn the right to be heard at some point.

Ministry is not about convincing people rather it is about engaging people in the hopes that we can one day reconcile them to God.

See also other post:

Prayer and the Hamster Cage

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