I love working with youth, especially high school students.  There is so much going on in their lives during their four years of high school.  It’s a time when their faith becomes tested on a daily basis.  They have decisions to make on friends, dating, and college plans.  They are bogged down with tons of homework.  Their lives are cluttered with sports and extra-curricular activities.  I know I wouldn’t want to go back to high school.  But as their youth leader, I love talking with my high schoolers one-on-one.

A few weeks ago, we held a lock-in (I know, I’m nuts, but I’ll tell you our format at another time).  While most of the kids were playing sardines, one student wanted to talk with me about college choices and majors.  I really should have been with all the students, but I felt the need for a “timeout” with this one student in particular.  It wasn’t the most ideal moment, but we talked for a good hour about the major decisions that were coming up.  Weeks have passed, and I still look back at that hour as my favorite hour of the lock-in.

I often think about the times that Jesus was pulled aside from the large group or even His twelve disciples to talk to a particular individual.  It’s at those moments that I think Jesus’ teaching was at its best.  His message was pointed and personal.  He showed that he cared deeply for the individual, not just the group as a whole.  Those moments came when that particular individual needed correcting.  I think of the time He met with Peter at the fire after he denied Jesus.  I think of the woman Jesus met at the well or the Roman soldier with the sick child.  Think about the time when the kids came to Jesus.  They just wanted one-on-one time with Him.  The disciples even tried to get rid of the them.  From that encounter you get “Let the little children come to Me.”  How often do we use that phrase in our churches or ministry?

Ministry is often all-consuming and the easy thing to do is cover a wider ground with service-level ministry.  Be sure to look for opportunities and take a “timeout” for those one-on-one discussions.  Don’t miss out on a life changing conversation with one student just because twenty others are busy playing sardines or knock out.  Would I have had an impact on the game?  Maybe, but I know that conversation had an impact on that student.

-Jeff Kuester