Being present is more than just showing up. It’s allowing your few to have a front-row seat to how God is working in your life and family; making the words you share in the circle have flesh outside of the circle.
For those of us working to create a Lead Small culture, we understand the power of being present for a few. We encourage small group leaders to show up predictably, mentally and randomly. And while checklists and goals are very helpful in that training, what we really want is for them to understand the “why” behind this big idea. It’s great to show up at games, concerts, award ceremonies and the like, but being present is more than just showing up. It’s allowing your few to have a front-row seat to how God is working in your life and family; making the words you share in the circle have flesh outside of the circle.
I recently got a Facebook message from someone I haven’t seen in several years; not since I was the youth pastor at the church she attended. I met her as she and her family were going through some tough times. Through it all, this single mom was doing an amazing job raising her four kids! While we didn’t have a lead small model in place at this church, our family was really acting as their small group leader.
She shared a conversation she had with her now college-aged daughter. They were discussing her time in youth group and what she remembered…here is what that young lady said: “Mom, I don’t remember much of what I was taught. My most memorable moment was Brian! I clearly remember being in the car with Brian and his kids. He said HEY watch this and he turned on veggie tales. The boys started singing and going crazy with it and Brian sang right along! That was the moment that I realized how great of a dad he was! I realized that I had a bad dad and I looked up to Brian for everything! I wanted to be more like him and not turn out like Dad! That’s exactly what I remember!”
I don’t share this to pat myself on the back. I share this because I don’t remember it ever happening! That’s right, out of nearly four years of lessons, retreats, choir concerts, etc., the moment that she most clearly remembers . . . I don’t.
When trying to develop a “Be Present” mindset, here are some things to consider:
A good mix of their special times and your normal times is best.
Continue to show up at big moments in their lives (e.g., school activities, birthday parties, church events, etc.), but don’t overlook an opportunity to invite them into your normal moments. And, no, not every moment is one you want to have shared in a Facebook message years later, but letting them see how your faith helps you deal with mess is good too. Keep inviting them in!
You ARE being watched and heard.
In the early years of a child’s life this is more obvious as you watch them mimic things you do. It is harder to believe when it seems all of your efforts yield only blank stares and shoulder shrugs. Know they are walking away with something. They are developing a picture of what it means to be a God-follower. It might also be their first experience with someone who doesn’t give up on them. Keep showing up!
You will never know the full impact of your efforts.
When I got this particular message, it started out with an apology. See, she meant to share this story with me over a year ago! There will be some great shared moments with your few; moments that you both remember. Then there will be those moments THEY treasure . . . ones you were unaware of. Perhaps it gets back to you, but chances are, it won’t. Just be thankful that God allowed you an opportunity to share in their story; at the end of that day, that is a pretty awesome gift. Keep leading small!
Brian Fuller is the nextgen minister at Georgetown Church of Christ in Georgetown, Texas.