In a world where there is a lot of conversation going on and so little being said, we’re called to use our words wisely. May we be brave and bold and have big talk in a small talk world.
I Like Big Talk
When I was in Haiti I had an ache in my heart for the older girls. They were very standoffish. Burned by prior visitors that only seemed interested in the younger kids. I wanted to connect with them. I wanted to know them. I wanted to encourage them.
One night, God opened a door for me to share the testimony of my childhood with the older girls. As I shared I could see them start to lean in to the conversation. The walls came down a little. Before I finished, I threw this out, “Do you have any questions?” After an awkward moment of silence one girl raised her hand. Then another. Then another. A rich dialogue ensued.
They asked soul seeking questions that led to honest, intimate, heart level conversation and connection.
The next day I was sitting on a bench watching the kids play volleyball. One of the girls from the prior evening, Michela, sat down next to me. She looked at me and said, “You shared your story with me. So I’ll share my story with you.” And then she added this,
I like big talk.
Oh Michela, I like it too!
Built for More
I’m not a fan of small talk. I can do it but I don’t like to do it. It feels obligatory. Canned. Empty. And truth be told, it won’t stick — in one ear and out the other.
My husband likes to remind me that small talk is a necessary stepping-stone to big talk.
I used to think that too. But more and more, I see it as a conversation stopper. Not just with the stranger on the plane but with the stranger on the pew, the guests in our growth groups, even the dear ones at the dinner table.
My name is Stephanie.
I like to golf.
I have a blog.
All in, I have five kids and three Chihuahuas (sigh).
Have you seen this funny video on YouTube – cats attacking kids?
Great talking to you.
Let’s do this again sometime.
I’m so glad Jesus didn’t waste time on small talk. Aren’t you?
Love your sandals, where’d you get them?
Want to see a picture of what I had for lunch?
Is Jerusalem your final destination or are you traveling through to Jericho?
How bout those Angels?
Read any one of the gospels and you’ll quickly see Jesus was all about big transparency, big topics, and big questions.
We were created in His image. We were created for more. We were built for big talk.
As a society, we seem to be losing our commitment and our competency to have rich meaningful conversations with up close and personal human beings.
Prayer requests? Crickets. Feelings? Forget it. It’s so much easier to keep it light. Post a picture. Share an emoticon. Stare at our smartphones. And that’s bad on a number of fronts.
We are happier when we connect. It creates a “spiral up” effect. God created us to be deeply connected, relational beings designed to share who we are with God and with other human beings. Don’t believe me? Spend some time with any of the Psalmists.
Real conversation leads to real joy and intimacy with God and with others. So how do we get the conversation started? We have to commit to the big talk language of the heart. I want to get better at it. Do you?
Big Talk Boosters
Big talk begins with God.
If I’m not having big talk with other people, it’s probably because I’m not having it with God. When was the last time you told God what’s on your mind? When was the last time you told Him what you’re afraid of? When was the last time you talked to Him about your hopes and dreams? Make a daily appointment with God. Put Him on your calendar. Find a prayer closet or a prayer journal and start talking!
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shade of the Almighty” (Psalms 91:1-2, NKJV).
Big talk is rooted in love.
We need to make people our passion not our project. Don’t shy away from differences. Don’t try to change them. Instead, try to love them with the same love Christ has for you. Love makes us curious. Love makes us compassionate. Love makes us listen. Love opens up doors. Love makes us initiate. Love pursues. Love breaks down walls. Love builds trust. Love moves us deeper. Without love, its just noise that makes us want to hit the mute button.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1 NKJV).
Big talk is willing to take a risk.
I’m not much of a risk taker but I’m trying. I’m learning to share my God stories with people without worrying about where or how they land. Trust me, all of those insecurities rear their ugly head when I’m about to open up and get vulnerable. But I get through it by reminding myself that I’m sharing what I’m about to share because God put it on my heart. Someone needs to hear it. My job is to be transparent. God’s job is to use it where and how He chooses.
Risk encourages risk. If I open up, chances are the person I’m talking with will open up too. We’ll have more “You too?” moments and less “I thought I was the only one” sagas. We waste so much time thinking we’re the only one in life struggling. I need to remember that it’s not about me. If it can help someone else, if it can encourage another human being, it’s worth the risk. Take it!
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:24, NKJV).
Big talk asks big questions.
The best way that I know to get the conversation is to ask big open-ended questions as the Holy Spirit prompts you. Ask and be okay with the awkward pause. Ask and be okay if they don’t engage. Ask and know that more times than not your question will launch deeper discussion and greater connection. So go ahead and ask. Ask and ask some more. Ask and listen. Really listen!
Here’s a few questions to get your wheels turning…
If you knew today was your last day to live, what would you do?
What happened to your childhood dreams?
What keeps you awake at night?
What brings you joy?
What do you want to get better at?
What inspires you?
What are you afraid of?
What’s your passion?
What’s your “aha” moment?
How do you recharge emotionally, physically and spiritually?
What motivates you?
Big talk is brimming with big testimonies (plural).
It kills me when I hear people say I don’t have a testimony. Here’s some good news.
You don’t have to have drama to have a “good testimony”. God gave us a salvation testimony (some are more juicy than others) but He’s also given us 1000 more abundant life testimonies all just as sweet to the listener.
What’s life like since coming to know Him?
What prayers has He answered?
What wounds has He healed?
How has He provided?
What heart epiphanies has He given you?
Think them through dear sister. Search the arsenal of topics in your storybook and He will lead you to the exact chapter He wants you to share when the time is right. Your life is big because you love a big God. Every chapter is a big opportunity for big talk. You have more than a testimony — you have testimonies plural! God’s given you plenty to work with. Share it!
“Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:39, NKJV).
Big talk requires margin.
We live in a culture that encourages us to schedule ourselves to death. Where there is no margin, there is no big talk. Our conversations are as small as the white space on our daily planners. Redeeming the time doesn’t mean adding activity. It means adding opportunity. And sometimes adding opportunity is as simple as sitting on a bench waiting for something to happen. Waiting for your Michela to show up.
Turn off the TV. Sit at the table… together. Go out for coffee. Make eye contact. Smile. Put your phone down. Be present. The bigger the margin, the bigger the talk!
“redeeming the time, because the days are evil”(Ephesians 5:16, NKJV).
Let’s face it. It’s hard to have big talk in a small talk world. You have to want it.
May we be brave and bold and bust through the bondage of just scratching the surface kinds of conversations.
I like big talk. I think you do too. So let’s do more of it.
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