Pursuing people’s hearts through exploring their story is our January step in Showing Grace as a Way of Life.
If you have shown grace in a natural sphere of life and prayed for the people God puts on your heart, then it’s time to begin exploring your friends’ stories!
Let’s think about exploring a friend’s story in 3 aspects: LAUNCHING, LISTENING, and RESPONDING.
LAUNCHING – In settings where you naturally converse, ask questions to learn the basic facts of your friend’s life.
Launching with genuine interest in people should grow continuously in our lives, but remember, it’s only involves 1% of the talking! You are launching so you can listen.
After short exchanges where you learn basic facts about your friend, try arranging a time and place where you can hear more. That opportunity might be over coffee, over lunch, a meal in your home or a restaurant you both have wanted to try, going to see a movie and talking about it afterwards, a business trip, a road trip to a concert or sporting event, fishing, or some other shared activity that affords conversation. The setting needs to match you and your friend.
Launching to learn more at this level might begin with requests or questions like:
Also, be aware of crisis events people experience. You may demonstrate your care by presence at a hospital, funeral, providing a meal. Also, following up and checking in with someone after a death in the family, a health crisis, a new birth, news of an impending divorce, job loss, or other emotional struggles offers you an opportunity to show grace at a very tender place in your friend’s life.
LISTENING – This is 97% of your role in exploring a friend’s story! After you ask a launching question you largely just need to shut up and LISTEN!
Listen with these goals in mind:
If you truly desire is to listen genuinely, affirm their story, feed their sense of safety, and discern traces of God’s story in their story, these non-verbal listening skills will help:
If you are an introvert, this is actually your dream! You get to be quiet and attentive! If you are an extrovert, you are going to need to let go of being the center of attention! Be comfortable with silence. LISTEN!
RESPONDING – Responding while listening and after listening is 2% percent of the process but is a huge relational investment. Responding while listening involves questions that explore further and affirming replies. Responding after listening brings closure and opens the door for more conversation down the road.
If someone shares something you find significant and would like to understand more, offer an opportunity with questions like:
If someone is not ready to respond, give them permission to not share more. But if a friend risks vulnerability, brief, affirming replies help them know they are not crazy but safe. You can offer them affirmation in words that feel natural to you. For me, its things like:
Finally, when the opportunity for exploring a friend’s story comes to an end, responding involves appreciation, affirmation, and offering for further dialogue when appropriate.
The beautiful dynamic that develops when you explore a friend’s story is–you grow in compassion for them, and their heart is warmed to you!
Posted: 1.28.2016 in Outreach Ministry Share: