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Generation to Generation: Who Needs You?

Doctors don’t heal the healthy, they heal the sick

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17

STEVEN: I’ve been experiencing a feeling of neglect lately. Not necessarily for me, but for my small group guys. That statement might be a little extreme, but in the past couple of weeks I’ve had this feeling that I’m not spreading myself out enough for all of my boys. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to spend a lot of time with each kid in a 13-person group, but I still felt guilty about not spending enough time with some of them. This week, I set a rule for myself that every week I would have at least one meaningful conversation with each of my guys during small group. That way I could feel better about making sure I spread myself out enough and not give the impression of playing favorites. Then life happened. While that was a great idea in theory, it’s just not as practical as I had hoped.

I don’t know if the generations are changing, or if I just got a particularly trouble-laden group this year, but it seems like there are a lot more issues that have come up for my boys this year than with my last group of junior highers. Between family conflict, extreme peer pressure at school, broken families, self-confidence/image meltdowns, etc., I have a lot of hurting kids. Most of them are sporadic things that come and go, but there are definitely a couple of guys that have constant issues that come up and need to be dealt with. That’s when I realized the fault in my “spread myself out” plan. The fact is, some kids just need more help than others. That usually means you’re going to spend more time with them, and there’s not a lot you can do to change that. I love the idea of spreading out, but I know some of my kids are pretty much self-sustaining at this point and don’t need quite as much attention as others.

This morning as I was thinking about my boys, the above verse from Mark popped into my head. Jesus knew the importance of spreading the wealth, but he also knew that people with ailments needed to be helped more than people that were spiritually healthy. It seems to me that we should take this same approach in youth ministry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to only spend time with certain students, just don’t feel guilty when you spend more time with some than you do with others. Just like Jesus, we need to recognize the hurt and sin and face it head on.

MATT: I want to spend time with each of the guys in my high school small group each week, and during our small group I try and hit each one up for a little one on one time. One thing I noticed with myself is that sometimes I tend to spend more time with my core group of students, the one who are really grounded in their faith, are at church each and every week and are students I enjoy spending time with. Today, Steven and I talked about the above verse in Mark where Jesus is asked why he eats and hangs out with tax collectors and prostitutes. (even in biblical times, people didn’t like tax collectors, not much has changed) Jesus’ answer was, “who needs a doctor more, the sick or a well person?” Sometimes I admit it, I take the easy way out. Some of my guys have some tough issues. I find myself asking God, “Okay God, what lesson are you trying to teach me with this kid?” These are the students that are not as easy to talk to as the others, for one reason or another. I talk with them but sometimes its not a deep intentional conversation, and then I move on to my core group. But if I want to be Christ-like, and I do, I need to remember that verse above, and be more intentional with the students who need more time.

Last night I had the opposite happen to me. One of my guys who has his feet firmly planted in his walk with God was a bit quiet. I asked him a couple times if everything was okay, but I didn’t really dig deep, I just let it go. After group was over last night, I got a text from him. He had something major going on and needed to talk to me, but I was talking to the other guys and he didn’t want to interrupt. I felt horrible, I missed the signs! He was one of “the sick ones” last night, but I was busy talking to the “well ones.” It’s not easy to always know whats going on with each of the guys in my small group, I have 17 this year, but by taking time to talk one on one to each one it’s easier to know what’s going on in their world.

In our weekend setting during student services, I try and look for the kids who are standing or sitting by themselves. At the same time, I look for the guys in my group, and also our other “core” students. It takes some time, but I try and spend time with each of those groups of students. But I’ll be the first to admit, I need to remember this Bible verse from Mark and try to be more attentive and compassionate to the students who are hurting, and it’s something I just added to my prayer list. God help me remember to be more Christ-like in this area. Help me be a good example in this area to my students so that I can pass this trait down to the next generation.

Are you taking time with each of your students, or just the fun ones who have no issues? Do you take the time to know what’s going on in their lives?