Ryan Montague Talks About New Book, Divine Opportunity

Ryan Montague, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and author of two books. Montague recently released his newest book, Divine Opportunity: Finding God in the Conversations of Everyday Life.

How did your education and teaching experience influence the writing of Divine Opportunity?

The book was formed from the research I conducted for my Ph.D. program. I interviewed 32 people for my dissertation, which gave me 32 stories about divine appointments and missed opportunities from the lives of everyday Christians. Divine opportunities, conversations sparked by God, are not only for pastors and missionaries. My research showed that God prompts all of us to engage in divinely inspired conversations with others. We just have to be open, responsive, and obedient. Throughout the four years of the book's development, I discussed divine opportunities with students in my communication classes. My students’ responses helped me continually refine the material during the writing process.

Your book stresses that technology keeps us isolated from one another. Can technology keep us from divine opportunities?

Therapist Zach Brittle says that, “technology invites us to avoid intimacy and we gladly accept the invitation.” As Christians, we experience God in prayer and reading Scripture, but there is no better way to be obedient to God than by loving other people, which means engaging with those right in front of us. The average person checks his or her cell phone 150 times a day. What if we checked in with God 150 times a day? What if we walked between classes without phones in our hands and asked God to put someone in our path? There are so many hurting people for whom a short conversation could change everything, but we’re consumed by technology. Imagine if every Christian in L.A. had just one spontaneous conversation this week and shared the love of Christ. How would that change people's perspectives of Christians and the love of God?

Imagine if every Christian in L.A. had just one spontaneous conversation this week and shared the love of Christ.

How can we make ourselves more open to divine opportunities?

So much of it is just unplugging and being available. So many of us go through life asking, “God where are you?” not realizing that it is difficult to remain close to God when you are detached from God’s people. We often live life in the fastlane, moving as fast as we can from point A to B, but we miss so many opportunities. Even leaving 15-20 minutes earlier means that we have time to stop and engage with at least one person, whether by helping someone with a broken down car, or helping someone with a broken spirit.

How essential are divine opportunities to the Christian faith?

The Christian faith is about relationships. Only by engaging with others can we share Christ’s hope and accountability. Being open to divine opportunities requires making small adjustments to our daily lives so that we become observant, obedient, and optimistic people. A former student of mine was leaving church and noticed a girl who was crying and clearly distraught, and everybody was walking by her as they left. When he asked her what was wrong, she said that she was considering suicide. Thank God he engaged in that opportunity. He may have saved her life. If my whole book was just to prompt that one conversation, it was worth it.

No matter what job we have or life we live––professor, janitor, or real estate agent, the goal is to be more open. The impact of one meaningful conversation could completely change the direction of your life, or the life of another. As Christians, to bring about change that inspires hope is our greatest calling.