expressive worship

The Lost Art of Conversation: loving and caring

I learned much of my genuine love and concern for people from my parents. In fact, my father never met a stranger. On the sidewalks of town, at the gas station or shopping at Sears, he knew how to draw people out, even if only for a smile to brighten their day.

He valued people. Their opinions, experiences, their joys and sorrows were of importance to my father. I have to admit, I didn’t see the full extent of his passion for others until his funeral in which hundreds came and shared their stories of how Jack Hendrickson changed their life because of his simple act of “caring.”

Expressing love for others by exercising good communication skills is within everyone’s capabilities. Jesus gave only two commands. Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

If loving and caring for others was not something you learned from those who shaped your life, it is a character trait that must be learned from the Lord. He is the very embodiment of love for He is the Creator of it.

If we do not have it, we must ask Him for it. We cannot give away something we do not possess. Genuine love and compassion often comes from practicing it…and you know the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.”

If you’re not sure how to begin, here are some ideas. Even though chit chatting about the weather and politics may be a good place to start, when the opportunity presents itself, dare to dive into deeper issues of one’s life. Ask genuine questions that stir more thoughtful personal responses.

Also, be brave enough to share from the depth of your own thinking. Of course, you need to “throw out a line” to see if it’s ok to traverse certain subjects. Be mindful as to how much the other person can handle at one time. Allow the conversation to naturally open up which will cause specific channels of thought to surface. Be honest and real.

Finally, in our house, computers and phones are not allowed at the dinner table. We even turn off ringers and silence the answering machine. Unless someone is “on call” for work or waiting for an emergency call, all phone conversations and “texting” are banned.

Carl and I feel it is important to nurture friendships and love those who have taken the time and effort to get together…even if it is just family. It is rude and dishonoring to be constantly distracted by outside interruptions. Those who are not present have to leave a message and will be contacted at a later time.

Whether you are young or old, it’s never too late to brush up on social skills. Even Peggy Post, Emily Post’s great granddaughter-in-law, made good behavior fashionable in her book Etiquette. She confirms that talking on the phone at the dinner table is a no-no. That includes the vibrating mode. Turn it off and give your companions the attention they deserve.

Communicating with each other over coffee, dinner or around a cozy fireplace broadens our understanding of humanity. Our world of technical and media bombardment seeks to steal the concentrated organic art of conversing with each other. However, nothing will ever take the place of face-to-face conversation, which is connecting to another person with intentional concern.

It’s in these “un-recapturable” moments that we learn to use language to explore limitless ideas, hopes and dreams. Dare to try it! Learning to be an effective communicator will become one of your most valuable assets in life. It will be the component that builds your relationship with God and with people.

As living breathing human beings, it’s one of our greatest gifts to each other.

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Leann Albrecht

A worship leader, studio singer, writer, and conference speaker, Leann has ministered at Women of Faith, Renewing the Heart, and other events; appeared on Integrity Music projects, Maranatha Praise Band CDs, and worked with Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, CeCe Winan, and other artists. She and her husband, Carl, live in Franklin, TN.

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