The family context causes its own particular challenges when it comes to having spiritual conversations. You might expect a negative reaction, an awkward situation, hard questions or even an argument.
Talking with a family member can often lead to the feeling of “Oh no, here we go again.”
So how can you go about this in a way that’s less likely to cause tension?
How you think about conversations with your family is as important as the actual words you choose.
Here are three ingredients to having the right mindset about spiritual conversations with a family member:
If there is tension in the relationship, it becomes much harder to have an open and honest conversation, especially about spiritual things.
Forgiveness does not mean excusing the other person’s behavior if that person hurt you in some way.
Forgiving the other person demonstrates God’s love by keeping the door open to relationship. This paves the way for honest conversation.
It’s easy to make wrong assumptions about people in our family.
Practice humility in a spiritual conversation by being curious.
The more curious you are, the more the other person will realize you’re genuinely trying to understand him or her.
With your family, you can take a longer-term approach to talking about your faith.
Think about each time you discuss your beliefs as part of an ongoing conversation.
Try not to worry about covering the whole gospel in one discussion.
God is working in this person’s life.
What makes talking about faith with your family so hard?
Click an answer below to see our suggestions.
Focus on talking about why following Jesus matters to you and how he changed your life.
You can listen patiently and show respect, even if the other person does not.
Give yourself time to think about how you see God working in your life. Then you’ll be ready to share that with your family.
Even small talk can help you learn more about your family.
Ask about special memories they have or past experiences to keep the conversation moving toward meaningful things.
Consider asking a question like, “What’s a favorite memory you have from childhood?”
Focus on being interested in them and things they care about. This helps you build a connection and creates a platform for talking about deeper things.
Try writing down things to pray about for each family member. Make time each day to pray for them.
Approach your family member with a desire to understand his or her position, rather than defend your own.
If the conversation feels like it’s becoming an argument, pause. You might need to come back to it later.
Alternatively, you could ask the other person why he or she thinks the tone of your conversation is changing.
Try to understand why the person thinks the way he or she does.
Is there a topic or issue you can start a conversation about to help you understand your family member better?
Ask a question like, “How did you come to think that way about this issue?” or “What’s the most important part of this issue to you?”
Remember, your past experiences of talking about faith with your family do not have to determine what future conversations look like.
God is working in your family. The way people think or feel about God and faith can change over time.
Be ready for the conversations you hope to have. Then trust God to create opportunities.
Explore more GodTools Lessons
This content was adapted from one of the Lessons available in the GodTools app.
Watch this video to find out how GodTools Lessons help you have the conversations you’re praying for.