Matt: Sometimes we have a plan for our students, and at the time it seems like its going to be a great night and a great lesson, but it just doesn’t go over as good as we thought it would. Sometimes I think I “over plan” a lesson. I get frustrated that my students don’t seem to get as much out of a lesson or a small group time as I put into it. That’s when it will hit me that those were my plans and maybe not the plan that God had for that night. I’ve learned that my job sometimes is just to plant the idea with students and then they have to take it from there. I’ve gotten good at letting the Holy Spirit take charge over things I know I can’t change or fix with a student, but I sometimes lack the patience.
This past week I had a good small group time with my students. We had a great discussion time after the lesson, and I felt good about the night. Later that night I got a text and then a phone call from one of my students who was going through a tough time and had a lot on his mind. He didn’t feel comfortable talking about the issue with the entire group yet and he just wanted my advice. We ended up having a phone call that lasted almost a hour. Afterwards it dawned on me that I probably did more ministry work that night with that one student than I did with all of them earlier that night.
That’s how student ministry goes sometimes – sometimes God will use you in a way you never expected or planned. You have to be open to Him using you in a way you never expected. That’s often when the real ministry work happens.
Steven: Two weeks ago, I experienced the frustration that Matt talked about above. The group time wasn’t exactly what I had planned – the boys weren’t focused, there were disruptions and distractions galore, and not much got done. By the end of our discussion time, I was pretty frustrated that the guys wasted a night of what could have been a potentially great night.
Then something cool happened. After the discussion was over, I could tell one my guys was hanging back a little. He’s the type that as soon as group is over, he’s sprinting out the door to get to his mom’s car, but not this time. I asked him what was going on and he said he wanted to talk about something from the discussion tonight. In my mind I was thinking, “Holy cow, you actually GOT something from tonight?” Keep in mind, too, that this is one my guys that is very private and not very talkative. He’s also the type that comes from a Christian family and seems to have it all together (we all know that person doesn’t really exist in real life). He told me some stuff he was struggling with, and it was a great moment.
I learned (or re-learned) two things that night.
- Just because things don’t go your way, doesn’t mean they didn’t go God’s way. I thought the night was a total waste, but it ended up being something that was extremely helpful for one of my guys.
- You never know how a particular message will affect your students. I wouldn’t have expected to have the talk I did with my student that night. I didn’t think the issue we talked about was something he struggled with, but I had my eyes re-opened.
Question: Does your small group time go the way YOU want it, or do you allow it to go the way GOD wants it?