[Next Generation] Being present in our everyday conversations

Have you ever watched the movie “Inside Out” by Pixar? My 20-month-old baby girl has been watching it lately.  

 The film revolves around 11-year-old Riley and her emotions. In one scene, one of her emotions, “Joy,” is trying to get Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong, to stop crying about his space rocket after it was thrown into the pit where everything is forgotten and fades away forever. Joy attempts to change his mood by trying to get him to laugh and play a game. In the same scene, another one of Riley’s emotions, “Sadness,” sits down with Bing Bong and says, “You and Riley must have had some great adventures together.” Thanks to Sadness sitting down with him and being sad with him, Bing Bong’s mood improved.   

As I watched that scene it made me think of how we as Christians share the Gospel. I believe often times we are more like Joy than Sadness. We are trying to get somewhere in our conversation or trying to turn the conversation a specific way. In doing so, we miss hearing their story and knowing them. If I am honest, most of the time I am more like Joy than Sadness.  

How can we be more like the emotion Sadness in our conversations rather than Joy?  

This summer I read a great book titled “42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions” by Carl Medearis. The premise for the book is that the average conversation length we see Jesus having in the Bible (from reading it as if in a conversation and timing yourself) was around 42 seconds. From that he created ways to have better conversations every day by doing simple things that would roughly take you 42 seconds.  

There are four sections in the book that progress from engaging in everyday moments to having more profound conversations. I have summarized several of Medearis’s chapters below to give you an idea of how easy it is to be present and have meaningful conversation.  

  •  Instead of pulling your car straight into your garage and closing the door, first park your car, go outside and find someone to say “Hello” to before going inside the house. 
  • Acknowledge those the world considers unimportant. 
  • Ask one more question. Conversation leads to relationships. It is not about driving the conversations towards a destination, but simply trying to have a better understanding and a deeper relationship. 
  • Small things that may seem insignificant have always been the keys to Jesus’ Kingdom. 
  • Stop trying to multitask when you are with someone and simply be with them. Listen to understand, not to formulate a reply. 
  • Open your ears and eyes. Medearis says, “When our eyes are open, our conversations change.” 
  •  Don’t assume in a conversation, instead ask questions, wait to say what you think, and really listen first. 
  • Know when and when not to take a stand.  
  • “Say Something Crazy” – Jesus cared more about obeying His Father and loving the people in front of him than how he was perceived. 

Here are my final thoughts after pondering the movie and the book mentioned above.  

Don’t worry about getting the conversation to a certain point.  Simply have good, deep conversations.  

Speak the truth. Don’t hold back from that simply because you think they will not want to talk anymore or won’t come back.  

Invite them into your life. Don’t worry whether your life is perfect. Let them see the real you. Let them see Jesus in your chaos called life. Let your kids be kids around them.  

Be prayed up. Be in the Word. Be Faithful. Love them and care for them. Treat others the way Jesus treated people. If you need a reference for that, my favorite is Luke 7:36-50 about the sinful woman. Treat people the way Jesus treated her. 

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