As fireworks burst in the sky, the loud bangs echoed in my chest. My heart pounded, not because of the distant explosions but because the spiritual conversation I had wanted to have was finally happening.
I felt pressure — pressure to say the right thing or ask the right question. Pressure to defend myself or explain the gospel a certain way. Those holiday fireworks echoed in my mind as I tried to piece together just the right formula to get this person to believe. But then a thought popped into my head.
“What if I just listen instead? What will happen if instead of planning my next move, I just really listen and let the conversation happen naturally?”
The result was a supernatural conversation. We talked more deeply than we ever had before. I got to be vulnerable, and the person I was talking with got to ask their real questions.
I learned in that conversation that listening requires trust in three people — trust in the Holy Spirit, trust in the other person and trust in myself. I realized that when I had felt pressure, it was due to a lack of trust. Let me explain.
1. Trust the Holy Spirit
The first person I needed to trust was the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples, “… the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said” (Luke 12:12, NLT). He didn’t want them to stick to a script. Jesus wanted the disciples to speak from the heart and trust that the Holy Spirit would help them in the moment.
For me, as I let go of the pressure I put on myself, the Holy Spirit was faithful to give me words to say from my heart.
2. Trust the other person
I have to confess that I’ve become pessimistic about spiritual conversations. I assume that other people don’t care about my faith or what I think about God. But my assumption was proven wrong that night.
I was surprised by how interested the other person was when I stopped trying to say the right thing and started speaking from my heart. I realized that I wasn’t trusting that the person cared about me and would want to hear my perspective.
3. Trust yourself
Lastly, I needed to trust myself. I thought I needed a formula or an outline to articulate what I believed. Sure, those things are helpful. But sometimes I can lean on them too much. I needed to take off the training wheels and articulate my faith for myself.
It turns out that I could do it on my own. It helped to have those tools in the back of my mind to help me. But for that particular conversation it was much more impactful to share from the heart.
I hope as you engage in spiritual conversations this month you will trust the Holy Spirit, the other person and yourself. Trust that God is guiding you and that the other person really does want to hear your perspective.
The pressure’s off!