If you’re like me in leadership or relationships, you can have the tendency to cut straight through to the point. “Small talk seems shallow or superficial,” you might say. “Let’s get to the point of why we’re really here to talk.” C.J. Mahaney had a great post this week interacting with a good friend and long-standing counselor with CCEF, David Powlison, on this subject matter. Some of Powlison’s statements struck me:
When I use the word counseling I don’t mean a Ph.D. in psychotherapy in an office. I mean the way the Bible talks about counseling, which is the effect of the tongue, and the effect of our lives on each other. We are changed by relating to each other when we relate wisely. And that may happen in an office. Every pastor is going to make appointments and there will be times that you sit down with someone, or you just say to a wise friend, “Can we get together?” You talk and counsel happens. Or it could be just the most casual kind of conversation.
In God’s view there is never an inconsequential word that anybody ever says. Every word counts. We are not always aware of that. Jesus says you will be judged for every careless word you utter (Matthew 12:36). That means that when you climb into anything a person ever says you find profound things revealed about what they are about: what they are after, what their intentions are, what their worldview is. Even in small talk there is a revelation of the heart that God is searching out, and he weighs the intentionality of small talk.
C.J.’s whole post is worth reading.