Life in the Marketplace of Ideas
How Jesus Upends Everything
What's one specific lesson from the book that could improve how readers communicate today?
Jedd: Make the ideas you want to convey concrete. When you help others to encounter a concept with their senses—really seeing or touching or even tasting it—that idea will be more deeply understood and remembered longer. Jesus did this continually. No idea remained abstract for long. He held up a coin, pointed out a poor widow, called forward a child. He called us not to be "good witnesses" but salt and light. He gave us the bread and the cup to remember him by. Jesus is the eternal Word made flesh, and he continually caused his words to take on flesh as well. His apprentices do the same.
You see great significance in the fact that Jesus asked so many questions. Why do you think he did that?
Erik: Questions have a way of circumventing our innate resistance to change. When we ask a good question, a person can't respond, "I disagree with your claim." Rather, they have to interact with the issue and dig down into their unspoken assumptions. Questions also turn the focus where it should be: on the listener, and her own decision-making process, rather than on the "power" of our persuasion.
You include a chapter on the importance of "time away from the crowd." Explain how our silence shapes the words we speak.
Erik: Modern life overflows with noise and frenetic activity. Our words will reflect that garbled reality if we fail to carve out regular times away from it all—in solitude, Sabbath, and silence. Without these, our communication may still carry information or entertainment value, but we'll really provide nothing beyond what people could get from a million different sources already. We all need margins—in our money, in our time, and in our rest. We need space to be silent.
You claim that every aspect of apprenticing to Jesus must ultimately flow from a deep sense of His Father's heart and character. Why is that?
Jedd: The truths we learn about communication from Jesus apply to anyone, Christian or not. But ultimately, really living them costs much more than we'd initially think. If we just want to "win friends and influence people," we'll try to adopt an effective technique, but will always stop far shy of the truly upending choices Jesus made in how he communicated. To go full bore, we must draw from a deeper motivation. Ultimately, the true apprentice to Jesus seeks to serve others in communication as a reflection of what we experienced first from God. "We love because He first loved us."
You have some interesting comments about the biggest choices we'll ever make. Explain your views for our readers.
Jedd: What ultimately most shape our lives, relationships, and legacy are the countless small choices we make each day. The "big" life decisions matter too, of course—what jobs we'll take, whom we'll marry, where we'll move. But by the time we reach those major crossroads, our direction mostly has already been set by patterns and character formed by the myriad little decisions that preceded it. As we grasp this truth, it gives an amazing freshness and gravity to daily life and decisions that previously seemed insignificant. It's asking good questions when everyone else is talking about themselves. Making a habit of times for Sabbath and solitude. Sharing of ourselves with uncommon transparency. Choosing to be attentive to the people whom others ignore. If we're going to be an apprentice to Jesus, this is where it happens.
Thanks to Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe for their time. Learn more at www.upended.org.
Timothy Dalrymple is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Polymath Innovations, a strategic storytelling agency that advances the good with visionary organizations and brands. He leads a unique team of communicators from around North America and across the creative spectrum, serving mission-driven businesses and nonprofits who need a partner to amplify their voice and good works.
Once a world-class gymnast whose career ended with a broken neck, Tim channeled his passions for faith and storytelling into his role as VP of Business Development for Patheos, helping to launch and grow the network into the world's largest religion website. He holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Tim blogs at Philosophical Fragments.