What’s In It For Me? Worship Conversation Killer

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conversational narcissismA Conversation Killer is a line or phrase that is either purposely used to end a conversation as soon as possible, or a comment that unwittingly ends a conversation.  The urban dictionary sarcastically refers to it as a deadversation.

Conversation is interactive communication involving two or more participants.  Even though conversation is not often scripted it may revolve around a central theme or subject.  A healthy conversation includes a balance of discussion and response, listening as well as speaking.  Meaningful conversations usually occur as a result of relationships built on familiarity achieved through repetition.  God’s revelation and our response to that revelation is a great model of a meaningful conversation…we call it worship.

Robert Webber wrote, “Worship proclaims, enacts, and sings God’s story.”[1] If we agree with Webber’s assessment then we will also realize that the conversation does not begin with us.  What we do and how we do it is a response to, not the initiation of the conversation.  God started the dialogue and graciously allows and encourages us to join Him in it.

Sociologist, Charles Derber coined the term Conversational Narcissism to classify the personality trait of one who constantly shifts the topic of conversation away from others and back to himself/herself.  Derber wrote, “One conversationalist transforms another’s topic into one pertaining to himself through the persistent use of the shift-response.”[2] Shift-response is taking the topic of conversation initiated by another and shifting the focus of that topic back to our own selfish interests.

Wondering what’s in it for us takes the topic (God’s story) and shifts its focus to a topic of our own choosing (our story).  What I need, prefer, deserve, or have earned not only shifts the topic of our worship, it also shifts the object of our worship.  When this occurs, the conversation is no longer initiated by or focused on the worshiped but instead on the worshiper…effectively killing the conversation.

[1] Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 39.

[2] Charles Derber, The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1979), 26-27.

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3 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Daved on 27.01.13 at 1:29 pm

    Wow, this really speaks to an issue I dealt with last year. An issue that forced me to seek service elsewhere…

  2. Posted by Woody Bruce on 27.01.13 at 1:29 pm

    Well written!

  3. Posted by Vernon Charter DWS on 27.01.13 at 1:29 pm

    Greetings, from a fellow IWS grad! Thanks for your thoughtful and penetrating reflection!
    Vernon Charter, assoc. prof. of music & worship arts, Prairie Bible College

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