Get it Together!

I have the best wife in the world. I’m sure married men reading this would like to argue with me, but…you’re wrong. At the moment, my amazing wife is pregnant.

Things get interesting when she’s pregnant.

Our younger daughter, Ruby, is developmentally behind (Don’t feel sorry for her; God has been very good to us, and she’s already making tremendous strides). As a result, despite being two years old, she struggles to communicate, is not interested in potty training and does not sleep through the night. We handle the first two pretty well, but some days, after getting up with her 4 or 5 times the night before, my wife is not in the mood. We’ve developed a saying to help us deal with these frustrating moments. Counting down my wife’s pregnancy, we jokingly say to my daughter “Ruby, you have [x] months to get it together!”

Again, we’re joking! Cut me some slack!

Of course, we understand it’s not that simple. Children all develop at different rates. I’ve yet to meet a healthy 5-year-old that can’t communicate and doesn’t wear big-kid underwear…and she is very healthy, and very happy. What makes it tough sometimes, though, is that “5-years-old” is three years down the road…more than twice as long as she’s been alive. We want to see immediate results from all the work we are doing with her, but it just doesn’t happen that way.

In Student Ministry, we can fall into the same trap of constantly asking ourselves, “When is [fill-in-the-blank] student going to get it together?” When will we begin to see results? When will they start to make steps toward God? When will we see spiritual development? Worse, we may even look at other students who seem to be further ahead and ask “Why can’t they be more like THEM?”

I love something Billy Haley said recently. “Student Ministry is a crockpot ministry.” It takes time to see students develop. We won’t see results right away all the time. Sure, every now and then we see immediate results. For the most part, though, we have to put all the right “ingredients” in the pot and trust the “cooking” process. We have to remember that students will not be a finished product when they leave our ministry, but if we lay the proper foundation, we give them the chance to succeed.

So what “ingredients” need to be present to give our students the best shot at “getting it together?” Here are a few.

1. PrayerWe should never overlook this ingredient. Early on, when we’re getting our feet wet in Student Ministry, we find ourselves on our knees often. As we become better at what we do, though, we sometimes rely less on God and more on our own ability. We must be careful to always be prayerful.

2Be an example. We must guard our example! Every time we’re around our students, we have to be on our “A-game.” It doesn’t mean we can’t ever make mistakes; they learn a lot from watching us fail and then recover from that failure. We can’t, however, be careless. We must be conscious of how our students will perceive our actions when we are around them.

3. Point them to Christ. Students confide in us, and that’s great! They seek counsel from us, and they come to us for answers. It’s great that we can help them through this process, and we should, but remember the old Chinese proverb…”Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” We must teach our students to “fish.” Teach them how to pray. Teach them how to study the Word of God. Teach them to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Teach them how to respond to that Spirit. Don’t always give them answers; sometimes, point the way and let them find it.

Remember, just because you don’t see results right now, doesn’t mean you aren’t being effective. Put the ingredients in, and let them simmer. 10 years from now, when they finally “got it together,” you’ll know you made a difference.

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