nobody likes small talk (it’s not just the introverts)


“Introverts don’t like small talk.”

Introverts (those who gain or recharge energy by being alone – as opposed to extroverts who draw energy from others) are often assumed to be shy, socially awkward or even rude because of the way they engage or don’t in social environments. However, those attributes are more to do with personality or emotional intelligence than the number one marker of introverts – they find people-heavy environments physically and emotionally exhausting. 

Introverts often express a deep dissatisfaction and even frustration with “small talk”. But I have an increasingly strong belief that NO ONE likes small talk. Not even extroverts. 

Extrovert readers, please feel free to correct me if you disagree, but no one likes small talk. It’s repetitive, it’s shallow and it’s only really a means to the end – a more rich and stimulating conversation or connection. 

The difference is that extroverts have the social stamina to endure more of it. Because they gain energy from being with people, they are not as drained by the small talk and don’t fear an exhaustion of their social energy before getting to a deeper conversation. They are also happy just to be talking – to people! – and so will more readily settle for surface level chit chat. 

For introverts, there is a very real chance that all of their social energy will be spent before they get to a point in conversations where they find meaningful connection or intellectual enrichment. 

Nobody likes small talk. Some are better at it. Some can participate in more of it before fatiguing their social energy. But no one actually likes it. No one comes away from a party and says “that was so good I spoke to a whole lot of people about absolutely nothing”. People of all temperaments are stimulated and satisfied by intellectually or emotionally meaningful connections with others.  People want to laugh heartily, be challenged mentally or connect personally – regardless of temperament. 

My hot tip for an introvert to thrive in social gatherings is this – find yourself an extrovert! Stand near them and ride the wave of their small talk into an actual conversation. Save your energy for the good stuff! 

Further reading 

six truths about extroverts
extroverts and quiet times

‘oh no!’ or ‘oh yay!’


I have a little friend who is 4 and adorable. I love going into spaces where she’s playing or interacting with others and just watching and waiting for the moment she becomes aware of my presence. As she happens to look up and around, she will eventually notice me and it’s the best moment to watch her face completely change. From her pensive ‘looking’ face or her blank ‘wondering’ face to her ‘KimmE is here!’ face. Her eyes go wide, the eyebrows go up, a massive smile breaks across her face and she yells “Kinnay!” Then follows the enthusiastic run from wherever she is to launch herself into my arms for excited squeezes and kisses.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was that happy to see us!? Maybe not with the run and leap, but definitely the joy and the enthusiasm and the positivity that fuels it. “KimmE’s here, oh yay!” Good things will happen now. This will be an enjoyable place to be. I want to be where KimmE is. I’m so glad she’s here.

In scripture there’s a guy named Joseph who people called Barnabas. Barnabas means ‘son of encouragement’. It was a nickname they gave him because he was so stinking encouraging in every way and in every sense and at all times that they just had to call him that. He was generous and engaged. He was a champion-er of other people. He was a speaker of truth and potential into the lives of others. He was encouraging and supportive. OH YAY! Barnabas is here!!

On the other hand, we all know some ‘oh no!’ people. You know the type. The ones you see coming and think ‘oh no, what have I done this time?’ or ‘oh no, what’s gone wrong now?’ because they are so critical and so free with sharing their negativity. They can suck the life out of any environment with their pessimism and cynicism and their disapproval. These are the people you’d sooner avoid – particularly if you’re already feeling a little tired or deflated – because you know they’ll be hard work.

I really want to be an ‘oh yay!’ person – don’t you?

I want everyone (not just 4 year olds) to see me coming and be expectant of good things. That my encouraging spirit and joyfulness might announce itself in such a way that people know they can trust this encounter to be life-giving not life-draining. I want people to be assured of my support and championing! I want them to know I am for them – even in their weakness or failings. I want my tone, my body language, my facial expressions, my interest and my responses to all be expressing hope and help. To be speaking truth and life. To be reminding others of their gifts and capacity to do great things and influence others in meaningful ways. To speak courage and boldness to the fearful.

I want to be like Barnabas.

Don’t you?

the light is IN the tunnel


You’ve no doubt heard the saying before – ‘there’s light at the end of the tunnel’. Say it around the right (or wrong) kind of person and your attempts at positivity might be squashed by the response “hopefully it’s not a train coming to run you down!” (Hilarious!)

It’s a well used sentiment. When times are tough, when we’re in seasons of difficulty or despair, when we are swamped with busyness or challenging circumstances – we feel like we’re in the darkness of a tunnel. The idea that there is light at the end of it can be our best attempt at a more hopeful outlook. The notion that at some point, this time will be over and on the other side of it there will be a time of brightness or lightness – where this heaviness will be lifted and there is a new day to be experienced and enjoyed.

I’ve used it myself. I’ve heard it myself. It seemed to make sense enough.

Until one particularly difficult ‘tunnel’ season about 15 years ago. I was recently separated from a difficult and damaging marriage. I was completely messed up in terms of how I saw myself and what I was expecting from life and relationships and my future. It was so dark. Trying to process my way through it all was intensely overwhelming. There wasn’t hope IN my relationship and outside of it there was so much fear, uncertainty and self-doubt. Of course, it came in waves. Sometimes I was ‘ok’ but then others times it just felt like ALL despair and hopelessness. The grief and pain seemed all consuming.

In one of those more harrowing times I was talking to a good friend and ministry pal, Jeff. He remembers the conversation as well because it became quite significant for him too. He was trying to speak something positive or life-filled into my circumstances. Wanting to tell me it would ‘be ok’ – to paint a picture of something more hopeful for my future than what I was able to see for myself. And he went to use that phrase “the light is at the end of the tunnel” – but he felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to a greater truth and instead, what he said out loud to me was. “Mate, the light is IN the tunnel!”

Despite my grief and my despair, God was present and active – right ‘here’ and right ‘now’. He wasn’t out there waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. He was with me IN the tunnel. The light of His truth was not just a thing off in the distance or somewhere in the future or on the other side of the hurt and hardship. Here and now. His hope, His peace, His joy, His grace and His love, were all present here IN the tunnel. It was so powerful.

It’s 15 years ago now and I remember it with clarity. Because not only did it start to immediately change my focus, attitude and expectation; to shift what I was looking at and looking for. But it also became a picture that has stuck with me and that God used to shape my attitude and posture during the intensity of that time but also – from that – to be something of my life message.

God’s presence IN our tunnels and IN our hardships means that they aren’t wasted times, or times of abandonment and rejection. He is present and active.

The message of my book and that I get to preach all across the country on the topic of Singleness is birthed in this concept. These seasons are never wasted. They’re not just the dark tunnel on the way to the light. They’re not just waiting times. God is present and active in every moment. He is working all things for our good and His glory. He is turning even what was intended for evil into something good and purposeful.

The light is IN the tunnel.

How might that encourage you or someone around you today? How might that truth shift the way we experience our dark tunnel times?

 

lessons from driving | do you beep your horn?

The last time I beeped my car horn (other than the friendly little beeps to stop someone from reversing into you) was about 3 months after I got my licence. 

I was 18 years old and driving with my Dad to the local shops. A car was doing dumb things in the carpark – who knows what – they were in my way and not indicating any plans to get out of it. So I beeped. 

My dad told me off. I tried to defend myself with the usual stuff about the other driver being irresponsible or inconsiderate or incompetent. But he pushed back by asking, “but what will it do for them?”

Well, of course my hope was that it would reveal to them the error of their ways and lead them to be a more diligent, thoughtful driver in future. But even as I said it, the unlikelihood of that happening became clear. 

He said I would just make them angry, defensive, frustrated or stressed. And what is that going to mean for them? For the way they’ll drive out of here? For the attitude they’ll take into the rest of their day? For how they’ll drive or speak to their kids or act on the sporting field or speak to the sales assistant? 

Good questions right?

So, I have never beeped in aggression or frustration since.

That resolve was added to by the fact that when people beep at me in traffic I have been known to cry – like actually. I would never drive to be intentionally annoying and so I feel like they’ve misunderstood what I was doing – I want to pull over and explain myself to them. Or I have made an honest mistake and I am traumatised to have made someone mad. I need a lighted sign that says “sorry” so I can switch it on as they drive past.  

My resolve has been further added to as I’ve observed the high level of stress and aggression on the road (manifested in unbelievable and terrifying stories of road rage related violence) and the speed at which people can be prompted to frustration or anger. There appears to be a lot of people who live very near the edge of ignition and only need the smallest spark to erupt in flames. 

Ultimately, beeping at someone is unlikely to do anything positive. While it might satisfy my self-righteousness temporarily it hasn’t really contributed anything good to others or brought any real positive change to the world. 

How about you? Are you a beeper? To quote Dr Phil – “How’s that working for you?” 

the resurrection changes everything!


When Jesus walked the earth He made some pretty outlandish claims and statements. He upset the religious and political leaders of the day – confusing them with His parables and stories, inciting them by confronting their fastidious laws and self-righteousness; defying them by prioritising the love and care of others over strict observance of the Sabbath. He said He was the Way, Truth & Life, the Bread of Life; the Living Water. He ate with sinners, healed untouchables; offered forgiveness to law breakers. 

This Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the time when all these statements and actions find their fulfilment. Just two days before, He had been brutally tortured and murdered and laid to rest in a sealed tomb. All of His teachings and declarations had a great big question mark over them. Could He really be “the Life” if He was dead? 

What dark days they must have been. 

And then He rose from the dead!!! Putting a massive exclamation mark on everything. He said He was the resurrection …and then He resurrected! 

The resurrection changes everything. The truth it reveals beckons us to respond by receiving its power and surrendering our lives to all Jesus would seek to do for us, in us and through us. 

talking to your KIDS about PORN before you’ve talked about SEX

11 years old. 

That’s the average age of a person’s first exposure to pornography. (In fact, some researchers are suggesting that age to be as young as 9.) 

For many it’s accidental – a misspelled URL, innocently inappropriate search term or a click on a banner ad. For some, it’s a friend at school or someone on the train. Because of the ease of accessibility it is almost impossible to predict or even prevent a child having an initial encounter with pornography. And so conversations to prepare them are important to have …early and repeatedly. 

Pornography is widely considered to be the number one sexual educator of our young people because children are engaging with porn before attending official “Sex Ed” classes and even before their personal curiosity has been aroused. Before their first kiss or their first crush they are being exposed to graphic sexual images and a type of sexuality that is so distorted as to bear little resemblance to healthy sexual intimacy (read 5 lies porn tells). 

So, what should we tell our kids?

At its most simply defined, pornography is videos or pictures of things that are intended to be private. The same understanding your children have of sexuality, reproduction and intimacy is the language you would use to help them know what the images or movies would be likely to depict. We teach our children about nudity, appropriate touching, understanding privacy and honouring ourselves and one another – these are the same principles we might use to speak of the inappropriate nature of pornography. 

TIPS :- 

Attempt to speak without embarrassment or awkwardness. 
Remember : language is power. Read blogs, books or articles by parenting, cyber safety or family experts to help develop your vocabulary and increase your confidence. 

Ask lots of questions to check their understanding and to ensure they’re confident with what they’ve heard. Curiosity only exists in a void. 

Express and demonstrate an openness to responding to further questions as your child might have them. (Which they will! Particularly as they grow in their own awareness and understanding they’ll want or need to know more as it relates to their growing knowledge and experience. Establishing yourself as someone who knows about this topic will increase the likelihood that they’ll come to you with further queries.)

Remember it’s not “the” talk but a continuing conversation. Don’t try and download everything you know or want them to know in one dump.

Fight for your kids. Let the strength of your desire to see your kids protected from the insidious and addictive influence of pornography and its consequences fuel you to push past any fear or embarrassment to do and say what is required to set your child up to win.  

C3 Hobart

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The community of C3 Church Hobart invited me into their conversation about being “Better Together”. They’ve been exploring relationships, parenting and marriage. 

On Sunday March 27th I shared into the topic of Singleness. Or namely “How can the church family be family to those without family?”

Overwhelmingly the response from those in attendance includes comments from Singles expressing such joy to have their unique situation highlighted and understood. And from marrieds who are encouraged to consider what they have to offer to Singles in their circles looking for a deep sense of belonging and inclusion. 

You can listen here : 

http://c3hobart.org.au/26032017-kim-smith/

serve one another – an example to follow


“I have given you an example to follow” – these are the words of Jesus to His disciples, to us, and the very core of discipleship. Jesus is our example of how to live and love, how to follow after God’s heart and pursue His mission, ministry and purpose.

Except these words were said by Jesus after He washed the stinky, gross feet of His disciples. Removing His Rabbi robes, wrapping a towel around His waist – the uniform of a servant, and kneeling on the ground to pick up one disciple’s calloused, dirty, smelly feet after the other – washing and drying them. (The story is recorded in John 13.)

I have given you an example to follow.

Sure, Jesus says His disciples should also wash the feet of others as He has done, but His call to follow an example is greater than that.

Think like Jesus

The text tells us that Jesus is filled with a sense of who He is and Whose He is and SO He gets up from the table and goes to wash the disciples’ feet.

That’s a completely different way of thinking. It’s a way of thinking about power, about position,  authority, about influence, about knowledge, about privilege, about entitlement, that is completely different to our own natural thinking on these things. Position and power for us can mean you think you are to be respected, treated differently; honoured. Our ‘celebrity’ culture is such that a person’s status or fame or notoriety becomes something of a free pass – you get the better seats, the table in a ‘booked out’ restaurant – all the bowing, scraping and pandering to your every need and whim.

Jesus THINKS differently. He sets us a different example.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus HAS the power, authority and influence. He just didn’t consider it something to leverage for Himself – for His own gain. Instead He set it aside, He gave it up … He took off the robes and He put on the servant’s towel. He humbled Himself enough to become human … but then He went even further and died a criminal’s death – the lowest of the low.

Jesus THINKS differently.

Love like Jesus

Verse one set up this whole foot washing scene through the lens of Christ’s incredible love for His disciples … for us. He had come to the world because of love. He had walked with them in the years of His ministry in love. This was the night before He was going to be crucified for the sins of the world because of love. And here in this room as He washed the feet of each one of them … it was again, an act of love.

And, of course, we see as He did go to the cross – this incredible demonstration of His love for us.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Jesus lay down His life for us out of love. This example that Jesus portrayed for us in the washing of the disciples’ feet was MAGNIFIED in the work He did on the cross. Stooping down. Bending low. Getting in amongst the dirt and stink and messiness. Using His power and authority to serve and elevate.

And our call is to let His love in us compel US to great love. To be so stirred by the needs of people around us and so captivated by the picture of others that GOD has – people of infinite worth and preciousness to their Heavenly Father – that we would respond by setting ourselves aside. Stooping low. Humbling ourselves. Putting others before us. Letting go of pride and self. Lifting our attention from us and our own needs and our own hurts and our own desires. Leveraging whatever power or influence or authority we might have for those who have none. Laying down our lives.

Jesus’ example is love.

He calls us to THINK like Him, to LOVE like Him and to RESPOND like Him.

Respond like Jesus

These two serving examples are pretty useless in terms of an actual activity to repeat.

Most of us can wash our own feet! We probably (hopefully) did it in the shower today or will tonight. If I showed up at your place and you proceeded to try and wash my feet I would probably be offended that you thought they stunk or that you were worried about me making your floors dirty or something – it certainly wouldn’t feel like an act of service. In fact, those who don’t like people touching their feet would probably leave rather than subject yourselves to a foot washing. It’s not a helpful illustration in that sense.

And neither is dying on the cross. There are very few opportunities we have to actually give our physical life for another’s. And certainly not in a way that would buy any sort of eternal security or salvation.

So when we look at this idea of ‘Responding like Jesus’ we have to look at the principles rather than the practice.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

We have to see that we are called to RESPOND … in humility, grace, forgiveness, generosity, compassion and mercy. We have to consider meeting needs of a practical nature – it might not be dirty feet but it might be a long lawn or overwhelming financial issues or a broken down car or a ministry opportunity. We have to consider meeting needs of a spiritual nature – to be prayed with and for, to be led to Jesus, to be helped to understand the saving message of Christ, to be grown in faith and obedience. And we have to consider meeting needs of an emotional nature – the need for companionship or a hug or advice or support through a difficult time.

We won’t be asked to give or do as much as Jesus – but we do need to be prepared for the fact that it will cost us something. Laying down ourselves by virtue does cost.

It will inevitably cost us time. It’s a blessed thing when you can serve someone else without impacting your own schedule – but it’s unlikely! It might be costly to your family, to your finances, to your study schedule, to your sleep – that’s what ‘laying down your life’ might mean. Completely setting yourself aside for the purposes of considering someone else. It’s big.

Serving costs us because loving costs us – it costs us something of ourselves.

Jesus says “I have given you an example to follow” … to serve one another in love.

Think like Jesus. Love like Jesus. Respond like Jesus.

good • bad • better • friendships by personality


For every strength of our personality there can be weaknesses on the flip side. What makes us a great friend can also be the very characteristics that become obstacles to being better friends – particularly when interacting with friends with a different dominant temperament than your own. 

SANGUINES

Sanguines make GREAT friends because they bring the spontaneity and joy to pretty much every situation. They celebrate well, they tell great stories and they find the fun in everything. 

Sanguines make BAD friends when they dominate in social environments, forget important details and don’t help with the dishes. 

Sanguines make BETTER friends when they make greater efforts to use their social power to include and draw in quieter friends, show sensitivity to the emotional climate of a situation, and are more reliable. 

CHOLERICS

Cholerics make GREAT friends because they will want to succeed at being a great friend. They’re good decision makers and full of big ideas for fun adventures and accomplishing things together. 

Cholerics make BAD friends when they get caught up in the tasks they want to achieve and don’t give attention to the feelings and emotional needs of others. 

Cholerics make BETTER friends when they make concerted efforts to understand people and give themselves to communicating at a heart level. 

PHLEGMATICS

Phlegmatics make GREAT friends because they are loyal, peaceful and consistent. They are observant, tolerant and can be drawn to laughter and fun. 

Phlegmatics make BAD friends when they are non-responsive or overly sensitive. Their lack of enthusiasm or expression can sometimes translate as a lack of care or concern. 

Phlegmatics make BETTER friends when they are intentional about expressing encouragement and emotional understanding and are more generous with their words and selves. 

MELANCHOLIES

Melancholies make GREAT friends because they think and feel deeply and seek creative forms of expression. Their perfectionism leads them to strive to be a ‘perfect’ friend and they follow through with intentionality. 

Melancholies make BAD friends when their depth of thinking and introspection leads them to overanalyse words, actions or circumstances and they become withdrawn, fearful, critical or suspicious. 

Melancholies make BETTER friends when they choose to believe the best of others and externalise thought processes in order to let others short circuit negative thinking. 
Which friend are you? Do you identify both the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type? What could you do to be a better friend or better understand your friends?