When Is A Conversation Meaningful?

In our last podcast, I used an example of a person I used to work with. He was an antagonistic atheist. He didn’t just not believe in God, he ridiculed everyone who did believe. He was aggressive and often left a wake of hurt feelings and damaged relationships in his wake. He would often tell me that he wanted to get a drink with me and have a real discussion about my beliefs. I, being the cordial people pleaser that I am, always said, “yeah, sure .” I had no intention of putting in the effort to schedule that meeting and I knew he wasn’t going to. I didn’t shoot it down because I knew it wouldn’t happen.

Why would I not want to have this conversation with him?

My answer is simple, it wouldn’t have been meaningful for anyone. He would have had an absolutely closed mind and if I had made any good points he would have attacked me personally to discredit me. I know there are rules to logic and all the ad hominem and straw man stuff, but I’m not an apologist. It’s the confrontation that I don’t do well with.

So what makes a conversation meaningful then?

I think there are a few things.

One is a genuine pursuit for Truth. If someone is not interested in learning and growing, in shedding sin and errors, then you can’t have a meaningful conversation. The defense systems they have built to guard their absolute worldview will violently defend it’s walls.

That leads into the second part, there has to be a real humility. I had a coach that used to tell me I needed to be so coachable that I could learn a lesson from a baby in a stroller. Truth is from God and he will share that light however He sees fit, be it a baby in a stroller or a hipster in a coffee shop. We have to be humble enough to receive it from anywhere.

The last piece comes from a desire to share. We all have a massive breadth of experience. Sharing our experiences allow others to gain truth without having to live the experience themselves. Sharing our experiences also reduces the opportunity for disagreement. No one can argue with you about what you have experienced. The only thing that is open to interpretation is the meaning gleamed from it. Sharing and processing as a group can help us make sense of things we didn’t understand or reflect on our life with a different lens.

Those of course are not the only ways to make a conversation meaningful. Those are just the three that make the most sense to me as I reflect on that experience.

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