I am reading through a host of chosen books by a group of women (most of whom are strangers to me, which makes it all the more interesting) all regarding discipleship and mentoring others.
It’s odd to read books about discipleship and mentoring because I am still often in that mindset that I’m the one that desperately needs to BE discipled and BE mentored…not the other way around. That’s why this book is so good for me.
Soultalk is by Larry Crabb and honestly I’m still processing through the first few chapters even though I just finished the book. It’s one of those books that makes total sense, but when you think about the practice of it in your daily life you think it’s impossible. But that’s really what the essence of this book is about. It is about living relationally with others without always striving for an answer. It’s about not just jumping in with a solution to their problem, or worries, or concerns. But really just listening to them and then listening to the Spirit that is within us. And ultimately it’s about striving for our first thing: to be in the Spirit and knowing God better and knowing that all the second things: such as the redemption of a failing marriage might occur. In us striving to know God better in our lives, when we are listening to our friends and neighbors share their hurts and worries, we are longing for nothing more than for them to know God better too.
All of that sounds so trite when written in a paragraph. “Know God better and your life will all fall into place.” That is so not true. But knowing and communing more in step with the Spirit leads us to a place where when our world is still falling apart, we know we are going to be ok.
If this book does anything for me, it encourages me to just be with others. To stop talking. To stop figuring out when I can share my struggles, but to just listen. I’m a horrible listener. I’m always five steps ahead of the conversation and have a horrible habit of interrupting. My friends all show me such grace in that area. And this book also encourages me that I have the power within me to speak grace to my friends, when I stop and listen and “think beneath.”
Crabb gives five areas of response when we hear from others about things going on in their lives:
THINK BENEATH: Don’t speak too quickly. Ask yourself, is this person more aware of his/her desire for blessings or desire for God? Is this a battle of religion (if I get it right, life will go reasonably well) or true Christianity (which is an utter and complete dependence on God…for everything)
THINK VISION: reflect on how this person would be talking about their life if they wanted God more than blessings. (looking for and receiving blessings so often can be the ruling factor in our walk with Christ…they are merely a second thing)
THINK PASSION: how are you (how am I) right now self obsessed as I’m listening to this friend? Feel it, confess it to God and let brokenness put you in touch with your true desire to love this person. (how am I looking for a way to impress this friend with my “wisdom” versus impacting them with God?) I can’t speak life into another person (fully) until I’ve seen my brokenness. Then the Life can flow freely out of me.
THINK STORY: Listen for the hidden story of fear and shame and to hear shaping events that directed this person away from God in order to find life. Don’t try to give advice and “fix it”, but just listen.
THINK MOVEMENT: Pay attention to any movement toward brokenness. Put words to repentance, encourage specific acts of trust, share your confidence in God and celebrate release of the person’s true self. When I speak, let it be words flowing out of my own brokenness…words flowing from the River of Life within me.
Overall this is a great book. It is a transforming book that honestly I probably need to reread every couple of months, or at the very least go back over my journal and highlights. I pray it leads me to a place of brokenness where I can speak less and listen more to those the Lord puts around me.