We have them all the time. I call them thirty second encounters.
You know what I’m talking about: the conversation on the elevator with guy you see every day who works in your building, the brief exchange with the teen working the check-out line at the grocery, the regular chat with your pharmacist, the lady you see three times a week when you work out, your weekly conversations with your yard guy.
I spent two days last week in the hospital recovering from a partial knee replacement. I had dozens of thirty second encounters while I was there.
A thirty second encounter is nothing more than a spontaneous meeting between you and another person — it could be someone you see regularly or a complete stranger — that lasts a minute or less. But a thirty second encounter is more than just a random meeting between two people; it’s an eternal opportunity.
You don’t need to have a long and involved conversation with someone to impact them. Thirty seconds is more than enough to point the crossing guard at your kid’s school toward eternal realities.
Here are three things I do in my thirty second encounters to encourage people. I’d love to know what you do as well.
I splash Jesus on them.
Jesus told us that if we drink from him, rivers of living water would flow out of us. (See John 7:37-39.) Whenever I have a brief encounter with someone, I try to picture Jesus splashing all over them. I want to be so wet with the Spirit of Jesus that everyone I meet gets wet, too.
The Scriptures teach that it is actually Jesus who lives in and through us. That being true, when someone meets you or me they’re actually meeting Jesus in us. It’s our job to make sure they get a good picture of him.
Unbelievers are more spiritually intuitive that we realize. They know when something is really different about someone.
If you splash Jesus on them (read: treat them, speak to them and love them as Jesus would), they’ll know something is up.
I tell them they’re loved.
This one has become a favorite of mine. I tell people how loved they are. It always surprises them.
People aren’t used to being told that they’re loved in those everyday, drive-by encounters. Some people are never told that they’re loved, even in their family settings, much less in the rough-and-tumble world we live in. So I can promise you that it really gets the pizza delivery guy’s attention when you end your encounter by asking, “Do you know how loved you are today?”
I always make it a question, because it invites a response. And sometimes those responses can lead to some amazing conversations.
I pray for them.
I don’t mean that I pray with them, as that might be more than they can handle in a thirty second encounter. I mean that I talk to God about them, even while I’m with them.
I find myself breathing little prayers as I try to splash Jesus on people. I want them to know how loved they are and I pray that God might overwhelm them with his goodness and mercy. Sometimes I see people moved to tears while I’m talking to them, and I know God is answering my prayers.
Silently praying for people while you’re with them can have a major impact on the nature and direction of your conversation. It can also leave a lasting impression. After a thirty second encounter, I want the person I’ve been with to feel different, to feel blessed. I want to leave Jesus behind with them. Praying for them invites God’s Spirit to linger with them long after I’m gone.
So as you can see, having significant impact in a person’s life in just thirty seconds isn’t as difficult as it first may sound.
What about you? Would you share your own strategies for leaving Jesus behind after you’re gone?