Just 42 Seconds – Short Conversations Matter

Our best relationship moments usually come through conversations.

When we read Jesus’s conversations in the New Testament, we discover how short many were.

According to Carl Medearis, author and minister connecting those in the Arab Middle East to those in the West, Jesus’s recorded conversations averaged only 42 seconds each. (Of course he also had longer conversations; this is just the average of the ones written down.)

Even the quietest among us can have a 42-second long conversation.

In this new book, 42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions, Medearis goes through ordinary moments in our lives and shows us how to have more meaningful conversations like Jesus did. Without seeming awkward. Without being forced.

“Jesus was a master at making short interactions with people significant.”

I appreciate this book for its simplicity and yet also for its depth.

It might seem simple to be reminded to look up and say hi to people we meet, but how many times do we resist making eye contact or forget to give a greeting? And how often do we miss the connections of these simple things with what Jesus did?

“Our goal is simply for Jesus to be a natural part of our lives and everyday interactions with people.”

The book is divided into four sections.

  • Be Kind
  • Be Present
  • Be Brave
  • Be Jesus

Each of these sections is broken down into short chapters beginning with a simple instruction of how we stop conversations and a better way to start a conversation instead.

For example, under the section Be Kind, Chapter 2 entitled “Acknowledge the Waiter,” Medearis opens with the Nonstarter (what NOT to do) and follows with the Opener (what TO DO):

  • The Nonstarter: Ignore those the world considers unimportant.
  • The Opener: Look them in the eye. Pay attention. Greet them.

He then gives examples of how Jesus acknowledged people, particularly those uncared about, like the poor, women, Samaritans lepers, children. An honest example follows from Medearis’s own life (often including his failures as much as successes).

“You can’t be effective at whatever it is you’re trying to do if you don’t say a warm hello to people. That’s where it all begins.”

Chapter 3 is “Ask Another Question.”

  • The Nonstarter: Be quick to give answers.
  • The Opener: Ask one more question.

You see how this works. It’s an easy way to capture our attention and gently prod us into doing better. I always need these reminders.

After several chapters, each section then ends with “Dig Deeper & Discuss” questions. These questions encourage us to live out the suggestions from the chapters as well as give us more scripture passages to read.

The way we love other people (or not) is visible in the way we talk with them (or fail to talk). Our everyday conversations are home base.

Our ordinary conversations matter.

Favorite Quotes from 42 Seconds

“For most of us, it takes courage just to walk across the street and invite our neighbors over for a barbecue. Forget the Navy SEALs or the stuff we see in the movies —we just need to greet Sam and Beth at the mailbox.”

~ * ~

“Go one question deeper by asking, ‘What was that like for you?’”

~ * ~

“By the way, I don’t think these conversations need to ‘lead somewhere’ —like we’re trying to get them to believe in something or to change somehow. I just mean that our exchange leads to better understanding of one another and a more substantive relationship.”

~ * ~

“If you are thinking, I wonder what a good way would be to encourage my pastor or the leader of a country, you might want to start with blessing their children. I know that if you want to win my heart, you pay attention to my kids.”

~ * ~

“Being present for God may be the key to life. To everything. Simply being with him, no matter where we are or what we’re doing, changes us.”

~ * ~

“If you want to be intentionally present with people, try asking two questions: Where have you come from, and where are you going?”

~ * ~

“But I’ll tell you this: without being brave in your conversations and willing to risk rejection or suffering of some kind, you won’t have much reward.”

* * *

Medearis also authored another favorite book of mine, Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism. This book shows how we can talk about Jesus to a world turned off by Christianity.

How easily do you have conversations with other people? Please share in the comments.

My thanks to Tyndale
for the review copy of this book

12 thoughts on “Just 42 Seconds – Short Conversations Matter

  1. Sherry Stahl

    Oh, I think every Christian should read this book! In Bible College I took a course called Evangelism, you had to take it. It was so awesome. The prof taught what this book is teaching. It shaped me to look for opportunities to share my faith in every conversation. Shaking out, just a little salt each time. Too much salt ruins food and makes you want to spit it out! Just yesterday I had a 42 second conversation with a girl at the drug store. She was in tears. God can do great things with our little! We just have to give him that little. Sound like an awesome book 🙂

  2. Pam Ecrement

    42 seconds….what a revelation! I think when we read them in the Bible they seem longer because they were never trite and always impactful. We do indeed have much to learn from the “Master Communicator”. Thanks, Lisa!

  3. Debbie Wilson

    Lisa, I just finished a coaching certification program that has challenged me to ask questions in everyday conversations instead of speaking too quickly. When I remember to do that it makes me a better listener. This sounds like a great book.

  4. Betsy de Cruz

    I love that question “How was that for you?” Reminds me of one I saw on your blog a while back: “Tell me more.”

    This sounds like a thoughtful and thought-provoking book. It makes me think I’m missing out on many beautiful opportunities to meaningfully connect with people.

  5. Maree Dee

    Thank you for the review. This book sounds like a great book to read. We sometimes make more out of what to say that we end up saying nothing at all. Just the other day I stopped to ask someone who was waiting on me how her day was going. It was a simple conversation, but she exploded with enthusiasm. She said, “No one ever asks me how my day is even when I ask them.”

    Sharing on my Pinterest board.

    Thank you for sharing your post with Grace & Truth Christian Link-Up.

  6. floyd

    I appreciate the common sense approach. It’s sad that Christians have to be reminded to be humble and see others as our Savior did…

    The old adage came to mind as I read; “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That old adage never gets old, Floyd. Kindness and humility go a LONG way in our witness of God’s love. Without those ingredients underneath our actions, we can often do more damage than good in our attempts to “do good.”

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