25 Mar Being With: A Change of Direction
When I first started in ministry, the goal seemed to be to get things done. The primary way people were influenced and helped was with the teaching. Sunday preaching, teaching times, and classes were the major focus. Families were stable and safe for the most part. Parents were communicating on some level with their children. Mentoring, imperfect though it may have been, was happening.
Things are different today. While I still do believe that Sunday morning is the most important event that happens in the life of the church, the need to strategically devote our time to “being with people” the rest of the week will determine true life transformation. Office visits and five-minute conversations in the sanctuary or hallway won’t cut it. And for those who have staff members on their team, it is imperative that you spend non-planning meeting time with them just to ask, “How is it going, really?”
For men to be influenced, it is more likely that they will open up and share what is inside them if they are on the golf course with you, or helping with a project, or driving to an event together. Those minutes and hours will provide sudden “God moments” when something will come out into the open. Probing follow-up questions can then give opportunity to explore the questions or situation more fully.
We must be careful how much time we give to whom. Timothy was told to entrust what he had learned to “reliable men” who in turn would be able to influence others. While every person in the church is important, and we must care for all, long term investments must be reserved for those who can help make a difference by replicating the effort in the lives of others. So we must ask some crucial questions:
1. Is this person reliable?
2. Is this person desiring to grow and is he teachable?
3. Is this person going to be around for a while?
4. Does this person apply the initial truths we have discussed?
5. Is this person leading his home in godliness?
There are other questions you may want to ask. The key is to make sure that your investment is able to bring a return (as best as you can determine at the time). All of us have invested and seen the fruit go out the door or never show up. But with wise selection, we can increase the possibility of success.
The teen and twenty-something generations are longing today to spend time with and hear from older adults that they know care about them and are interested in sharing life with them. They have had few meaningful interactions in their lives that they feel have prepared them to successfully navigate the nuances of life. They want to hear our experiences, and know how we handled what they are facing.
Many adults are in the same boat. They feel their failures and challenges but find few places to share their “low times.” If we provide a place, time and circumstance where they know it is safe and their vulnerability will be met with a loving attitude and a desire to help them succeed, they will open up.
So look at your schedule. Work at not doing much alone. Take someone with you. Plan who will travel with you to that retreat. Invite someone to help you with that project at home. Make time to be “with” people. Men with men, and women with women, for obvious reasons. And if you say you don’t have time, you are admitting that you don’t want to be effective in what you are doing. That is how crucial this is for today.