Be Direct

“Direct conversations are often necessary to communicate your expectations to teammates. If these types of conversations or issues are avoided, teammates may not realize that there is a concern. Without this awareness, a teammate does not have an opportunity to turn things around, and therefore the teammate cannot be held accountable. It is your responsibility, as a leader, to bring issues to their attention, so they can improve.” (Nebraska State Government, June 2021)


Why does the Nebraska state government have to explicitly spell out this kind of conversation?  Because direct conversations don’t come easily or naturally for us humans.  Yet, direct conversations are the only way to make any progress, work successfully as a team or learn and grow as individuals.  Understanding this to be the case in Nebraska (and all around the world), is it any wonder that we struggle with real, intimate and direct conversations with God?


Passive conversations are more the norm in our fractured, faulty, sin-stained world.  These are conversations in which you avoid saying what you actually think or want.  Taken to the extreme, passive conversations can transform into passive-aggressive conversations.  A style of conversation in which someone appears passive on the surface but are really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way. 


You know this type of conversation.  Dare I say, you regularly practice this type of conversation – Sighing, rolling your eyes, sarcasm, subtle sabotage in order to get your way, etc.  Instead of being direct, you’re a hypocrite.  Saying one thing while thinking and very often doing something different.


The reasons for this conversational behavior are many, but I want to focus in on one:  You don’t trust others.  You don’t believe that someone has your best interests at heart.  You don’t believe that another person wants to help you learn and grow.  You believe the other person has some hidden agenda, because you have hidden agendas.  No judgment.  No condemnation.  Just getting real.


This might be the case for you because people in your life have taught you not to trust.  This might be the case for you because you loath anything that even resembles conflict.  Or this might be the case for you because you lack the confidence to truly speak your mind.  Whatever the case may be, the point is this: Passive conversations with people will directly impact your ability to have direct conversations with God.


Passive conversations are unproductive in your relationships with others.  They lead to misunderstandings, hard feelings and maybe even more conflict than you might have been initially trying to avoid.  In terms of prayer, passive conversations lead to an empty, unfruitful and unsatisfying relationship with God.


What does passive prayer look like?  There’s no one blueprint, but there are three characteristics to look out for.  First, passive prayer is rote.  It sounds the same, looks the same and serves the same purpose day after day.  It’s more ritual than relationship. 


Second, passive prayer is shallow.  You don’t get deep into any need, desire, fear, joy or concern.  You don’t get real with God.  Thus, God can never be real with you. 


Third, passive prayer is distrusting.  It won’t lead you into sin, but it will rob you of experiencing God’s blessings.  For it will cause you to doubt God’s love, God’s grace and God’s provision. 


“Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)


If you think that you have a passive prayer life, this is what Jesus is communicating to you – be direct!  This will take practice.  You won’t always get it right.  Yet, with practice you will get better and better every day.  There’s a bonus to all of this direct conversation with God: You will get better and better at being direct in your conversations with the people in your life.  Thus, vastly improving all of your work relationships, friendships and romantic relationships.                


Start today.  Be direct with God.  Ask, seek, knock and get real with God and see just how real God gets with you.