Often our friends suffer as they go through tough circumstances, pressures, and various trials. Many times, they suffer through these things alone. Instead of sharing their burdens and concerns, they quietly bear them or strive to bear up under them. Occasionally, they bravely share their burdens. When they do, essentially they risk being further burdened when someone mishandles their concerns. Of course it can go the other way as well, they may be helped and encouraged.
If I were to ask you about helping or being helped by your friends, no doubt each and every one of you would say that you are grateful for those in your life who have played such a role and desire to be that kind of person as well. None of us would ever want to intentionally hurt another person, in fact, almost all of us would say that we do not want to unintentionally hurt anyone either.
In my mind, two situations are important to consider. First, how do you handle situations when someone comes to you with a difficulty or you notice someone is suffering under a particular burden? Second, how do you engage individuals with whom you come into contact where you have no idea they are struggling, yet your interaction will either encourage or discourage them in their journey?
Three Key Attributes to Encourage Others in Conversation Respect
Respect means you demonstrate a deferential attitude toward another person. You see, consider, and treat the other individual as you would want someone to see you, consider you, or treat you.
- How would you want someone to listen to your story?
- How would you want someone to respond to you when they hear or see you?
- What would you want someone to do when they heard you?
These questions force us to push into the recesses of our own hearts as we think carefully about what we enjoy, desire, and understand as care. When we do, several ideas come to the top. Let me suggest four: take the person’s comments seriously, give the person talking your attention, pay attention to how you talk to and about your friend, protect the person’s confidentiality, and listen with a desire to learn about the person talking.
When the person walks away from your conversation, that individual should feel heard, listened to, and cared for.
As a conversation develops, true care is demonstrated when the person talking senses true interest. Interest can be shown through compassion, sympathy, and thoughtfulness.
- If this person were in my family, how would I respond?
- Where have I faced similar pressures, struggles, and feelings? What helped or didn’t help? What do I wish others would have done or that I am grateful they did?
- In what ways does your own sinfulness help you understand or think through your friend’s situation?
- What practical ways can you meet the person’s needs?
In conversation, the goal is that this person would receive your care through your interest. If nothing else, the interest you show should at least provide a breath of fresh air to the other one with whom you talk. We hope this person believes that you have sought to understand him or her and that your genuine desire is to help and care.
Authenticity includes honesty, sincerity, and self-perception. A person is authentic in his or her care and concern when that care and concern demonstrates the candor of real life. Each one of us live in the 24/7 of real problems, real pressures, and real struggles to live consistent with the Gospel in the midst of these things.
- Where have you experienced the refreshing grace of Jesus Christ in your own struggles?
- What are your own weaknesses?
- If you were in a similar situation, what would be your own temptations, concerns, fears, anxieties, or thoughts?
- Are you speaking words of truth in love that flow out of a genuine concern, real grasp of the Gospel, and a desire to share God’s grace with your friend?
Often in the world of craziness in which we live—our jobs, friends, churches, and culture—our friends need our authenticity. We need authenticity. Authentic relationships, founded in and on the Gospel, fuel genuine care, true encouragement, and honest kindness.
As we talk with each other, listen carefully, and engage thoughtfully, our goal is to invest in those with whom we talk. Kindness. Compassion. Grace (Ephesians 4:15; 32). May our conversations be helpful as we walk together in conversations.
This blog was originally posted at kevincarson.com. View the original post here.