Meaningful conversations

    The bottom line. Output. Outcomes. Results. These words are common in North America. Our culture values productivity: at the end of the day, what do you have to show for your efforts?

    In a generation of text messaging, Facebook, and demanding work and family lives, it’s tough to slow down and actually listen to people. Yet listening is a first step toward meaningful conversations about the children we serve.

    Here are a few reminders and suggestions for cultivating authentic relationships.

    Awareness: Practise being more aware of the people around you. Ask questions. Learn more about them and their unique gifts and interests. Be someone who is interested rather than interesting.

    Intentional: Listen for natural ways to bring Compassion and the developing world into everyday conversations. Turn a comment about the weather into a conversation about a typhoon in the Philippines. Or when you’re asked what’s new, mention the latest letter from your sponsored child. Ask God to help you influence conversations on behalf of children living in poverty. Small talk leads to meaningful talk.

    What’s your story? Ask God to use your testimony or your life story and experiences, including your role with Compassion. There’s nothing more powerful than the story of what God is doing in your life. Become more transparent and vulnerable.

    Share a story. Use stories to describe Compassion’s ministry. It’s easier to weave a story into everyday conversation than it is to describe how a Compassion program works. Tell your friends about the people you’ve met overseas, or about the impact of a particular child learning to read and write.

    Network. Find someone who knows someone, by being aware and intentional. One advocate hosted a Bible study with women who attended different churches – thus reaching new spheres of influence.

    In the West we have a tendency to be profit-oriented, where everything is measured according to the results and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate results.

    In the East – especially in India – I find that people are more content to just be, to just sit around under a banyan tree for half a day chatting to each other. We Westerners would probably call that wasting time. But there is value to it. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches us about love. The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving.― Mother Teresa, A Simple Path