Walk in any day and you find a slice of life at your table
One man leavin’ his wife, another wishin’ he was able
An old man tryin’ to forget — a young one lookin’ for a label
And the stories they tell, you can’t tell if they’re true or they’re fable
Everywhere you go in the world there are stories all around you. Think about it: each person is a story. More than that — each person is a book. And each person is waiting to tell their story, as long as there is someone who really wants to listen.
Remember when you first fell in love? You stayed up all night and talked, right? What did you talk about? Your stories. You finally found somebody who really wanted to hear yours, and you, in turn, were eager to hear theirs. No hurry. We’ve got all night. (The way this relationship feels right now, we may have a lifetime!) We’re enthralled with each other. We want to hear more.
This is where it all begins. The story. Next time you’re in Johnny’s Cafe, look up from your menu and look around you. Imagine each person is a story. Aren’t you curious? Imagine being able to hear them all. Don’t you ever try to guess? I think that’s a game we’ve all played from time to time — we try to guess who someone is. We make up a story about them based on their appearance, their dress and their demeanor. It’s a fun game, but why not do one better than that; why not find out their real story?
One of the easiest things to get someone to do is to talk about their own life. Admittedly, some people are pretty private, but show some genuine interest and you’ll find out something you didn’t know.
It’s really easy. You start out with everyone’s basic opening questions like: “Where are you from?” Or “What do you do?” You can be more creative than that, but honestly, anything will work. The rest is simple. You pick one thing they said in their answer, and ask another question about that. It’s like digging for treasure. Each answer leads to another level. There should never be an end to it. Every answer has in it the seeds of the next question. How far do you want to go with this? How much time do you have?
I have never met anyone who does not want to talk about their own life, as long as someone is genuinely interested. You show that you are interested by listening hard enough to find the next question. Your next question shows you paid attention to the last answer. You’re either listening or you are waiting to talk. You can’t do both. So listen.
A story is a doorway to a relationship; a relationship is a doorway that Christ can eventually walk through. It’s that simple.