Three weeks ago, I arrived to our student ministry environment not having the chance to review the small group leader dialogue. It had been a hectic week and as a small group leader who obsessively over-prepares, I was in a panic.

I barely had a chance to duck into a shadow in the back of the room to do some speed reading before small group when two of my big 8th grade guys jumped on my back and put me in a headlock (their very violent way of saying hello). My hiding spot in the back of the room had been compromised. In a matter of seconds, all 14 of my 8th grade guys were crowding into the back as I anxiously tried to prepare.

I kept telling my few, “I just need five more minutes and then we can hang.” But they didn’t listen. They wanted to hang now. I got annoyed with them and sternly asked: “Guys….just give me five more minutes.” That’s when one of the more witty and sarcastic guys said: “Why are you wasting your time preparing? I’m not going to listen to you anyways.”

I looked up at him, smirked and folded up my small group dialogue sheet.

I finally got it.

My few just wanted a few minutes of my time. Yes it is important to prepare. But don’t let preparation get in the way of being present. Not physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

I had to remind myself that my few really don’t have many significant adult relationships in their life and the fact that they wanted to hang with me was a big deal.

That night made me realize: while it’s important to show up prepared, it might just be more important to show up engaged. Sometimes the most important question you ask isn’t about the talk they just heard. It’s about their test last friday, the soccer tournament or their mom’s surgery.

Each week, we are handed an opportunity to connect with our few. But the weeks are numbered. Week after week passes and before we know it, our few will sit with their peers in caps and gowns. So how will you spend the time you are given? Hiding in a corner, memorizing a script? Or genuinely engaging with your few, asking the questions you won’t find in your weekly handout?

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Jeremy holds a B.A. in Communication from University of Minnesota as well as a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has a passion for connecting with and learning from student pastors, deliberatively researching, reading, and blogging about student ministry and family ministry, dabbling with online technology and experimenting in ministry lifestyle design and productivity in the church. Jeremy and his wife, Mikaela, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he serves as an Orange Specialist with the XP3 Student team.

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