Disclaimer: we don’t believe in magic. Not really. (Except for the magic of Narnia and Middle Earth, which is rational and real, just because.)
But we do believe in supernatural power that often shows up in the smallest of God’s things and the least likely of God’s places.
Language is one of the those things and conversation is one of those places.
Words have the power to both hurt & harm and revive & restore. We all know this, both painfully and joyfully.
Somewhere in between those two extremes is the simple joy of conversation. (More on that here and here.) And conversation is where ministry takes root.
When conversation with a middle schooler gets stuck or stalled – which it will – here are the three magic words that will move things forward again:
Tell me more.
That’s it. Just three words. Ten letters. Thirteen characters. One-tenth of a tweet.
This isn’t new news. We’ve heard it before. But in the midst of a stalled-conversation-crisis with an introverted middle schooler, old-news-that-we’ve-heard-before-about-three-small-words might not seem supernatural enough to do any good. It would be easier to just move on to the next kid – maybe the one who never shuts up and who thinks you’re awesome and laughs at all your jokes and loves all your ‘grams and follows you around and has started dressing like you.
Don’t. Don’t give up and walk away. Don’t move on to the outgoing chatty kid to ease your own discomfort or boost your confidence. Stay there. Stay put. Stay present.
And then say, “Tell me more.”
For more on the power of “tell me more,” check out this recent article from Fuller Youth Institute.