The [Unofficial] Art of Conversation

“In my opinion…”

A statement that I have used waaaay too much in my life!

Having an opinion can be a blessing and a curse. I’ve heard many quotes about opinions, but the two that have stuck with me are:

Opinions are like buttholes, everyone’s got one and they stink.

And

Your opinions about leaders and situations don’t matter unless you are in the position to do something about them.

Living in the coffee shop world, I have learned the art of striking up a conversation with anyone. I would daily be pouring lattes for world travelers, surfers, stay-at-home moms, college students, doctors, judges, pastors, and deckhands on fishing boats (to name a few).

Every guest in my shop is as unique as the other; and we meet every race, religion, tribe, and tongue. Learning how to find common ground and the ability to talk about almost anything can be a challenge and requires a determination to always be learning. As I thought about the “Art of Conversation” here’s a few steps that I have put into practice in my own life.

First, you need a foundation of taking time daily to grow spiritually and hone your craft. These two elements will be the open door to connecting with people. Being full of the love of Christ and being led by the Holy Spirit is #1 above anything. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Then, whatever your job, skill, or occupation is, seek to become the best at what you do. This is an instant contact point and easy conversation starter. If you say you’re a barista but don’t really know much about coffee, then the conversation has the potential to quickly crash and burn. With the ability to articulately explain coffee from a well of knowledge and understanding, you will gain ground based on your position as an “authority” in a subject. You can apply the principle of this scenario and apply it to your profession.

Second, become one that listens. Don’t just hear sounds, but be someone that has “ears to hear”. Really listen to people! Be quick to listen and slow to speak! It’s said that when you are talking you are not learning. There is no way to even know how to connect with others unless you hear where they are coming from. Only once you listen can you find the entry point. [Tip: I listen first for differences in speech, like accents. “Where are you from?” is an awesome entry point.]

Then, third, develop the discipline to acquire information from everywhere. You can glean from news headlines, look up definitions to words, study maps, read books, watch sports video highlights, obtain differing view points on politics and social issues, etc. Information retention is not only good for the sharpness of your mind, but it’s the gasoline to the vehicle (conversation) that helps to connect. I’ve had some refer to me as a savant. I wouldn’t agree with this, though I get what they are saying. I think the more accurate word is a polymath (a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas). But really, I am just a lover of people; and because of that, I want to become interested in what others are interested in!

Lastly, when you ask someone a question, fight the urge to interject and cut off their answer with your own views. This is probably the most damaging to any future conversations! When others view you as the one who dominates every conversation, then they will cease to converse. Cutting off sentences and thoughts are no bueno! I view my calling in life to be one that builds bridges and connects people—both with each other and with Jesus. Nothing can burn bridges faster than your smelly butthole… oops, I mean opinion!

Ultimately, we must be careful about how generous we are with sharing our opinions. My mentor in business would always remind me, “Loose lips sink ships!” When we are quick to share our opinions and not listen to others, we often miss out on opportunities to connect with them. I’m a firm believer that nothing happens by chance. Every person you connect with happens for a reason. Let’s become more masterful with how we connect with those we encounter every day!

Disciplining our mouths to only share our opinions when others actually ask for them is a great habit! This will make room for more productive speech, like talking about the love of Christ, encouraging/building up others, bettering your craft, and speaking TRUTH.

But, what do I know… this is all just my opinion! 😉

What say you?

I’m listening…

Steve

Advertisements

McChurch: I Want to Be Served.


Say what you want, but we are lazy by nature.

If I had it my way, I wouldn’t do any work.

I want my marriage to be great = Love and serve.
I want money = Work.
I want to be healthy = Exercise and eat right.

With church, it’s the same.

Too many of us see church as a weekend car wash.
Drive thru to clean up and be on your way.
Quick and easy, and cheap.

Or, maybe we don’t go to Church A because the music isn’t our flavor.
Church B has bad preaching.
Church C is full of old people.
Church D serves bad coffee.
Church E…

Here’s a challenge:

It’s not about you.

The reason we become so discontented with churches is because we make it all about us.
Maybe God is directing you to that church because He wants you to serve there.
Maybe the person serving coffee doesn’t know any better, and you can help!

Philippians 2 reminds us, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Another way of saying is this:

TODAY IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

Let’s ditch the selfish my-way-or-the-highway mentality, and realize that the church is the bride of Christ.
It’s designed to be His way.

Let’s seek to serve the Lord and serve others.
When we do so, I think the church will begin to look more like it should — as a blessing to the world!

McChurch: I Want It My Way.


Customize.
Pick and choose.
Mix and match.
Have it your way.
DIY.

These are all great options for your clothes, or your computer’s desktop, or your Subway sandwich.

The danger is we like this option so much that it starts to be expected in areas of our lives where it’s not necessarily a relevant option.

Marriage.
Friendship.
Health.
Money.
Faith.

These all have serious limitations when it comes to having things our way.

A major characteristic shared by those on the second list is this:
They don’t come easy.
In order to have these as a positive and effective part of our lives, we must work on, or for them.

And, part of the work involved is this:
All these elements require sacrifice, time, energy…
We have to learn how to change and grow.

When it comes to Church, we tend to treat it the same way we treat the drive-thru menu board — just give me what I want so I can be on my way.

To be continued…

It drives me nuts!


Stress!
Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

I don’t get stressed too often.
But when I do, man…

My shoulders get tense.
My head hurts.
I get really warm.
My neck gets stiff.
And my attitude gets… well… chippy.

You ever get that way, or know someone that does?

I get a little short about things that normally are not that big of a deal.
I get frustrated.
I drive my car faster.
I turn my music up — which is usually some sort of rock or techno, or super dramatic movie score…

Lately it’s been the soundtrack to TRON: Legacy by Daft Punk; which is a combo techno-score!
I’ve been listing to that a lot because 1) it’s really good, but also, 2) I’ve been noticing that the stress level has been higher.

As times get busy, and projects pile up, and time grows shorter and shorter, the stress level can kick into fifth gear.

Thankfully, I can turn to the Lord for all that I need to deal with the stress.

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
Psalm 55:22

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
2 Corinthians 4:8

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9

Another thing that helps is getting alone… like, at the beach!
I love going to the beach to chill and unstress.

So, for those that sometimes get the poopy Steve… the one that is acting uncharacteristically like a snappy, unhappy idiot…
SORRY!

Just remind me to “keep putting into practice all that I have learned“! 🙂

Steve

  • Do you ever get stressed?
  • How do you handle it?
  • Do you often have to apologize for your attitude to others?
  • What is something you have learned to handle stress?

Can this be said of you?

This really pricked my heart tonight, and I wanted to share it with you.

Joseph, after being jumped by his brothers, thrown into a well, and sold into slavery, still managed a reputation of being prosperous due to his closeness with God.

Check it:

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.
(Genesis 39:1-5 NASB)

  • Is it clear by your life that the Lord is with you?
  • Are you a blessing to your boss, friends, family, etc?
  • If you answered “No” to either of these questions, ask the Lord to show you what needs to change in order for the answer to be “Yes.”

Notice, circumstances don’t dictate whether one is blessed by God.

Rather, it where one’s heart lies.

Is your heart with the Lord? Your blessing is greater than your current situation; so remain faithful, and you will be exalted in due time!

In the meantime, be a blessing!

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being Christian doesn’t cover up bad work. (Colossians 3:22-25 MSG)

Being challenged by The Word…

Steve

And, Just Like That…

… almost a week goes by!

Busy, busy, busy.
Work, work, work.

It’s way past my bedtime, but it hit me that I hadn’t blogged in 5 days! Crap. I mean… poop. The Challenge is upon me… consistency is key, and this week I failed! But, maybe the following testimonies from a week of God-at-work moments will make up for it. 🙂

God has been at work, my brothers and sisters! Let me-ah testify-ah of the goodness-ah of God-ah!

Monday I was told about the fact that after our first church planting meeting at the coffee shop, and after closing in a prayer of blessing over the business there, they had the busiest day (and highest sales) of any Sunday since they opened! God is so incredible, and we are so thankful for His blessing on the shop for providing a place for us!

Tuesday we found out about a guy that came to our first church meeting (we’re technically not an open church yet, but I will never straight up stop someone from wanting to be a part of what God is doing). Well, he had a dream that a light was coming after him. He woke up and immediately said to himself, “I gotta get right with God!” He told a friend that he knows it’s because he attended our meeting last Sunday. To God be the glory! The Hound of Heaven is at work!

Wednesday God provided for me the opportunity to go to our monthly ministers’ meeting, and I had a chance to share about the church plant; and other pastors got really excited! One guy took down my name and number and wants his daughter to be a part of the church (she is a student at the University of West Florida)! God is so good!

Thursday my wife and I had the privelege of being invited to the house of the Pastor from the church that just sent us (Grace AG). He and his wife cook a pastor/decon Christmas dinner every year; and they invited us to join them for dinner. I love seeing, and being a part of unity between the leadership of different churches!

Friday (yesterday) I had the opportunity to eat lunch with three other men, and share, invest, and encourage a friend that is greatly struggling right now. It was so awesome to see how God is working in his life in the midst of great trials! Then, last night my family ate dinner with some friends that we haven’t spent time with in a while. It was so refreshing to eat, laugh, and pray with them. Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday (today) was D3 (Daddy-Daughter Date), and one of the highlights of my week, every week! I love taking my daughter to the coffee shop and investing in her. Such a joy and honor to be raising her. Thank you, Lord! But a trip to the coffee shop is never without an opportunity to share of the great things God is doing in our lives, and to continue to build relationships with others; and to have opportunities to share about the church plant. Every time I am there, someone is asking about it, or a co-worker tells people about the church. It’s so great to get confirmations about the vision God has birthed in you!

God is so incredible!
A week full of awesome things that God has done!

I would say I’m speechless, but… How can I keep from shouting His praise!

Steve

If You Build It…

… it will probably fail.

So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.
(Nehemiah 6:15, 16 NLT)

On Sunday night (our last Sunday as pastors at Grace Assembly of God) Pastor Ben Peters gave a great word about building walls.

As the Church, it is our job to obediently work toward fulfilling the vision that God gives each of us; and usually that vision is specific and unique to each local church or person. We see many leaders having a very specific vision that God has given them, and that vision is fleshed out through their local church or ministry.

When these visions are given from God, there is one thing that they will all have in common: God will receive the glory.

If it is His will, it is His bill. God provides everything we need to fulfill His purposes for our lives. Our job is simple—obey. It is when we start to make our own plans, and attempt to strategize with our own understanding and vision and models and strategies, that we fall short every time. Yes, people may look at it and say, “Wow! That’s really successful!” (or maybe not if it completely fell apart); but either way, unless we have completed the task set before us by God, then we have not succeeded in that which matters most.

The people built the walls of the city of God, not for their own glory, but so that God would be glorified. That, at the success of His people, the world would fear God. When we take the credit, or change the plans, or attempt to make some corrections for God (because we think we know better), that’s when the glory no longer goes to God; and that is when the work that was done has now been done in vain; and when we thought we were building walls for people to see God, we end up only building barriers that keep people from Him.

This can come in the form of church programs, the structure/control of our services, social programs, “outreaches” (I put that in quotes, because we usually mean come-and-see-us-and-be-impressed… maybe-you’ll-stay-and-pay-tithes), etc. Don’t get me wrong! A lot of what we do is good, I think… But how much of what we do is really what God intended us to be doing as the Church?

Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
(Psalm 127:1a NLT)

I certainly am not claiming to have all the answers. These are simply thoughts from an ongoing dialogue about what we are doing as the Church.

What do you think? Please, feel free to leave some feedback. 🙂

Seeking His plans…

Steve