The transformative value of conversation – Jon Owen

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The following thought is from Jon Owen of Urban Neighbours of Hope. Jon has been a regular speaker at the Forum, and lives and works in the community in Mt. Druitt in Sydney’s Western suburbs. He and his family live out the idea of servant leadership in a very tangible and humble way amongst their neighbours and friends and are wonderful examples of what it means to love others in our world today.

In this article, Jon Owen writes on dreaming big, opportunity for transformation and the value of conversation.


I am really glad that I don’t watch much of the news. Tonight I met a man who accepted the hospitality of a stranger. We are both enriched because of it. If I watched the news I would be have been told to be afraid of him as he is from the middle-east and is seeking asylum. All I encountered tonight was a shy, timid man who was seeking a warm bed and some friendly conversation. I thank you that I was able to provide him with both.

Meeting people we are taught to fear has so many benefits. A young man sought me out eagerly recently with a fire in his belly as he shared his dream with me for the future. He had turned his life’s deepest question from “Why me?” to “How can I be there for others experiencing the same heartache?” (Which I reckon is the secret ingredient to joy for us all).

Most of my dreams at his age involved plenty of cash, cars and sporting ability – since then i’ve seen a lot of cash pass through my hands and I own a Tarago – some dreams do come true, just not the way we expect them to… (I’m still waiting for the sport gene to find me, maybe lawn bowls – truth be known I already played that in high school for compulsory sport and I still sucked at it).

We encourage our friends to dream big. It is then our task to put some concrete love, plans and support behind them.

What we have also discovered is that it also helps to place their dreams in a larger frame.

So today we sat together and I watched as he and a companion shared about their lives with a small audience that was captivated by their passion and heart for leading local youth.

When we avoid those we are told to fear we miss the opportunity for mutual transformation. We all walked away from that encounter better off than when we began. The place where we all sat was holy ground. There is much to be excited around here, stay tuned!

Today I bumped into the carers of a kid we love. As we chatted with them about him his Uncle sighed. ‘What’s he done wrong now? Has he hit someone?” I was able to laugh and tell him I wanted to tell him about what he’s been doing right lately. You could see a tonne of weight fall from his shoulders and he opened up about what a good kid he is. If we start with someone’s gifts and strengths it doesn’t cost a cent to begin a new an entirely new conversation.

There’s a lot going on.

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Author: Jon Owen
Date: 4/5/2016
Format: Online newsletter

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