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Articles | Discipleship
Rick Lawrence

Rick (rlawrence@group.com and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for 26 years. He’s author of the just-released book Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (simplyyouthministry.com). He wrote the books Sifted (www.siftedbook.com) and Shrewd (www.shrewdbook.com) and the upcoming Skin In the Game (2015) as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.

Of all the ways we excel at wasting things in our culture, we are at our wasted worst when it comes to our words. Because we don’t know any better, we substitute hollow banter for meaningful seed-planting. For example, at the health club the other day I overheard this conversation between two guys that I’ve heard a billion times, in one iteration or another…

Guy #1: Hey, how are you?

Guy #2: Well, it’s Monday—so, you know…

Guy #1: Yeah, gotta hit it head-on and bounce back..

Guy #2: Yeah, it’s a bounce-back Monday…

So, what happened there? The charitable translation is “social grease”—a meaningless but useful relational transaction, the very kind of interaction that I’ve always botched. I can’t stand to waste my words—it’s like throwing $20 bills out of a moving car. The fruit of these “How are you?” interchanges tastes, well, plastic to me. I mean, it’s conversation that has no nutritional value. In a way, the wasted ways we fill up our common/awkward conversational spaces are reflective of the master’s response to the slave who buried his investment in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents:

“You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered not. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.”

Jesus is slamming wasted opportunity and fearful cowardice—on the surface, a much-too-harsh connection to our silly little “How are you?” interchanges. But Jesus is the preeminent conservationist—He sees every relational connection as an epic opportunity for redemptive leverage. And since youth ministry is defined by relational connections that offer rich soil for redemptive seed-planting, the reclamation of our “throwaway” banter is worth the effort…

We need a better answer when we’re asked, “How are you?” Some envelope-pushing experiments in responses that have redemptive risk in them…

• Way better than I deserve, and grateful for it…

• Slapping doubt in the face…

• Walking on water, as usual…

• Grateful for the joy in my journey…

• Life is tough but God is good…

• Smiling on the outside, ecstatic on the inside…

• Swinging for the fences…

• East of Eden but West of the Cross…

• Cliff-diving into life…

• Rich in everything but money…

• Ruined for Jesus…

What about your “experimental responses”? Fill up the comment box below with your own ideas…

The words that come out of my mouth will not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” (Psalm 55:11—The Message)

 

Rick (rlawrence@group.com and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for 26 years. He’s author of the just-released book Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (simplyyouthministry.com). He wrote the books Sifted (www.siftedbook.com) and Shrewd (www.shrewdbook.com) and the upcoming Skin In the Game (2015) as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.

6 COMMENTS

  • Beb says:

    “Any better and I would be twins!”

  • Garry says:

    Better days are ahead of me…

  • Pam says:

    I am Blessed:)

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