John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Just to Sit, Just to Talk

So, a friend of mine sent me an email last week. Said he was going to be in town (he lives elsewhere) and wanted to get together for a cup of coffee. I immediately started to wonder what it might be about. He works for a pretty sizable publishing company; maybe he wanted to talk to me about a potential book project. Maybe his church is looking for a new pastor. That happens sometimes. Someone says they just want to have a conversation, but they're really feeling me out for something.

I managed to put the whole thing out of my head for a few days, but when he called this morning, my brain started racing again. What could he want? What's his angle?

This was the inner monologue I battled for nearly an hour as we sat inside Starbucks, staring outside at the rain. Why is he asking me that question? Why did he steer the conversation in this direction? When is he going to get around to the real subject he wants to talk about?

And then it dawned on me: Maybe he just wants to sit and talk. Maybe this is just because he and I are friends and this is what friends do.

So many of my encounters with people are utilitarian. It's easy for people to become commodities. I hardly ever meet with people without an agenda, without wanting to know action items afterwards. What am I responsible to do now? When are we going to meet again? I have this checklist in my head when I'm talking to folks.

Sometimes it's good to just have coffee and catch up. It may be beyond good; it may be necessary.

How often do you meet with people just to sit, just to talk? I don't think I do it often enough.