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Touchstones for Courageous Conversations

“Touchstones for Conversations” comes from the Center for Courage and Renewal by way of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School. The list includes several helpful “touchstones” useful in determining your church’s guidelines for Courageous Conversations.

Come to this work with 100 percent of yourself.
This means two things: be as present to this work as we can be, and bring all of who we are here – our joys and successes, as well as our fears and failings.

Extend & receive welcome.
We all learn most efficiently in spaces that are welcome us. Know that you are welcome, that you belong and extend this welcome and hospitality to others.

Share the air.
Pay attention to how much of the group time you take. Every voice is important and no single voice ought to dominate.

Speak for self.
Not everyone in the group has the same gifts or limits, the same beliefs or opinions, the same experience or calling. All any of us can do is speak with integrity from the heart of who we are as individuals. So, instead of using “we” statements, employ “I” statements.

When the going get rough, turn to wonder.
When you find yourself disagreeing with another, becoming judgmental, wanting to set the other straight, or becoming defensive, ask a question.

Listen to Silence.
Silence is a rare gift in our busy worlds. Allow silence to be another member of the group.

Attend to yourself and your own learning.
We learn from others, of course. But as we share time together, we will have many opportunities in which we can learn from our own selves. Pay close attention to your own words and reactions, and you can be your own best teacher.

Honor each other’s vulnerability.
To share our vocation and lives with another requires a certain degree of trust and self-disclosure. Let us hole one another in prayer and what is shared in confidence.

Attend to joy.
We will celebrate every gift of beauty, laughter and life by not taking ourselves too seriously. We will remember that “angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly.” (G.K. Chesterton)

Believe that it is possible to emerge from this work refreshed, surprised and less burdened than when we came.
Expect that our work together can provide for renewal, refreshment and helpful perspectives for the work at hand.

Adapted with permission from the Center for Courage and Renewal by way of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

Click to read a Spanish translation of this article.

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