The ministry of small talk

Yesterday, in talking about how to love others, I mentioned that it is possible to use small talk either to love others as a demonstration of your care and interest in them and their desires, or as a means of withholding love by keeping things superficial and non-intimate so that you neither have to share your own heart and life, nor be involved in the vital parts of their lives (David Powlison was the first one to trigger my thinking about this in a recent interview I heard from him).

This morning, Pastor Brian Croft posted an answer that he gave to a young pastor who asked how to conquer the awkward silences that occasionally arose when he visited elderly people.  Croft’s answer corresponds to the principle I was talking about yesterday:

Secondly, all it takes when going to visit the elderly is a greater effort to learn the things they like and enjoy.  Talk to their closest friends in the church or their family and find out what they are interested in and ask them about those interests.  I have an elderly widower, WW II vet, in his 80′s with failing health who still has an amazing mind and loves history and politics.  I love history and tolerate politics, but always go with questions in both those areas to ask him as he is an extreme introvert, which makes it hard sometimes to get him to talk.  Yet, I always love my visits with him.  It is amazing how people will come out of their shell when they talk about what they know, love, and most importantly they think you are interested in hearing.

I hope that helps.  Remember, when you visit the elderly for no specific reason, other than to spend time with them, that already makes a huge statement of love and care for them.  Don’t forget that.  You may be worried about the moments of awkward silence when they may simply be loving that you are sitting in their living room. [HT: Practical Shepherding]

2 thoughts on “The ministry of small talk

  1. Question: What does the HT: stand for before the name at the end of your blogs? I tried looking on Google and got LOTS of answers that I couldn’t fit into your blog with any assurance! Thanks! Jen

    1. It stands for “Hat Tip,” meaning that I found the reference originally at the site indicated — in this case, Pastor Brian Croft’s site, “Practical Shepherding.” It’s a way of recognizing that I didn’t find the source in my own reading and study, but found it with the help of another blogger or website.

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