life, Personal Growth

4 Benefits to Having Uncomfortable Conversations

November 15, 2017 • By

I was recently invited onto a podcast to be grilled by the host for an hour.

I don’t know why, but conversations like this have always been difficult for me. I don’t answer questions “on the spot” very well, and I tend to freeze if the topic isn’t something I’m very knowledgeable about.

When I was younger, there were people in my life who would ask me questions about my faith, not in the spirit of exchanging ideas, but to try to make me look foolish. I honestly don’t know why your neighbor’s son was hit by a car, I’m not sure what happens to people who have never heard the gospel, and I have no idea if God can create a rock so heavy that even He can’t lift it.

Truth be told, I’m not much of a theologian. I’ve been reading through the Bible, over and over again, for around 30 years, and I’ve been in ministry for over 20. But I’m a Bible College dropout, and I’ve only read a small handful of books on theology. I know other people who are able to answer difficult questions much more concisely, and with greater confidence than I can.

Fortunately, the podcast was produced by a friend from our church, and it was done in the spirit of honest conversation, rather than an attempt to publicly debate me. Nonetheless, it was very uncomfortable. But, as I’ve been mulling the experience over for the last week, I’ve come to realize that there are some benefits to engaging in uncomfortable conversations.

They force you to really think. A lot of times, we just adopt our beliefs without giving much thought to them. We were taught certain things, they sounded good, and we accepted them. What we believe about God is the most important thing about us, yet we give more thought to the shoes we buy than the faith we buy into.

They make you dig deep. Let’s face it, most conversation we engage in is pretty shallow. It doesn’t take much thought, and doesn’t challenge us. But an uncomfortable conversation is like a workout. We have to search our memory for information we’ve read, observations we’ve made, and evidence we’ve accumulated. This is especially true if you don’t want to give answers like, “because the Bible says so” or “just because”.

They challenge you to decide where you really stand. I know that it’s important to pick your battles wisely. However, it’s also important to know what you believe, and not be wishy washy on certain issues. That doesn’t mean we become dogmatic or inflexible. It just means we move toward becoming established in our beliefs about what is important to us.

Lastly, uncomfortable conversations are humbling. I mean this in a good way. If you approach an uncomfortable conversation in the right spirit, you have the opportunity to learn what you don’t know, and you can start growing in that area. In the instance of the podcast, I was inspired to do some reading on the issues we talked about. I don’t want to merely postulate or philosophize. I want to actually know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve been avoiding uncomfortable conversations, I would encourage you to kindly engage in one in the near future. They are, well…uncomfortable, but so is exercising and learning new skills. Give it a try!

If you’d like to listen to my uncomfortable podcast conversation, click here.

Christ Following

Fear of the Deep End

October 10, 2017 • By

I remember when I was just a grade-school boy. One of my favorite summertime activities was swimming. If I had a chance to be in the water, I would take it, even if it wasn’t terribly hot outside.

There was a community pool in our city, called Anderson Pool. For just 25 cents, you could spend the entire day there. I still remember the smell of the chlorine, the pre-swim shower that felt like needles against my sunburned shoulders, the stubbed toes, and the lifeguards continually telling me to WALK!

There were 3 pools at Anderson Pool. A shallow pool for small children, a 3 to 5 foot deep pool for kids like me, and deeper pool that you could jump off the diving board into.

I remember one summer when I really wanted to jump off the diving boards. I was still pretty small and swimming in the deeper pool required little guys like me to pass a swim test. I was with several friends but only a couple of us were brave enough to take the plunge (literally).

The lifeguard told us that we had to be able to swim from one end of the deep pool to the other. I had already attempted this the summer before, and failed, but this time I wasn’t going to give up. It felt like everyone was watching, and I wanted to look strong. When the lifeguard yelled GO, I jumped in and doggie paddled as hard as I could. I swam to the other end of the pool, and back again! I was exhausted but I passed the test. I was now able to jump off the diving boards!

I discovered that summer that the diving boards were the most fun thing at the pool! I never wanted to go back to the less deep pools ever again! I loved the feeling of plunging into the water, and that brief moment of weightlessness as tiny air bubbles surrounded me. I would spend hours jumping, diving, and flipping into the deep end.

Unfortunately, some of my friends wouldn’t take the test. They were afraid, or they just didn’t want to do it. No matter how many times I encouraged them, or told them how amazing it was in the deep end, they just wouldn’t do it. They were content with splashing around in 3 feet of water, or just sitting at the edge of the pool dipping their feet in while they worked on their tan.

I find following Jesus a lot like that. There is a deep end, and it’s amazing!

In the deep end is peace. In the deep end is purpose. In the deep end is revelation, intimacy, joy, wisdom, and adventure!

The deep end requires of us. It requires time in prayer, time in God’s word, silence, fasting, sacrifice. But, just like I never regretted taking that swim test, I’ve never regretted paying any price to go deeper in my faith.

Yet, there are some who are content in the shallows. They don’t really know what they’re missing, and they don’t feel like finding out. Just like I wish I could have gotten my friends to take the swim test, I wish I could get all believers to take the plunge into deeper, more meaningful experiences with God.

How about you? Are you still splashing around in the shallows? What’s keeping you there? Do you lack motivation? Are you afraid?

Push past those things, jump in, and discover the awesome adventure that is the deep end.

You won’t regret it!