Saturday, July 11, 2009

Interact Not Entertain

I watched a mother at Panera talking on the phone, not to her son.  For more than 25 minutes she carried on a very energetic conversation with... someone, while her son ate and sat.  His continual attempt to interrupt the phone conversation was met with a hand gesture to stop, stern look and a mouthed non-verbal "wait."   The first couple attempts the son made were with a great deal of energy as he saw something that caught his attention and filled his, what must have been about four year old, mind with excitement and wonder. The following attempts were a little less exciting and seemed to come with a great deal of apprehension, almost knowingly aware of the pending response. The final attempts were not even directed toward the mother, but now to an older couple sitting at the table closest to his.  The "grandparent" aged couple smiled, pointed and spoke with the small boy; they seemed to be enjoying the interaction as much as the he. Then it happened, the small boy moved from his chair to the edge of the table were this couple sat.  He was there for only a few minutes smiling, giggling and enjoying the time when the mother finally reengaged informing him it was time to go.  As the small boy left with his mother he waved and said "good-bye" at least three times to the strangers who took an interest in him.

Sharing this story is in no way a knock to the mother or parents who need to work to support their families. This is a wake-up call to those of us who minister to students.  How do we engage the students who are right in front of us? How do we take an interest in them?  Students who come to our ministries desire someone to interact not entertain him or her. 

The little boys response to his mother is much like the responses we will receive from students. How we respond to students will determine how excited they become about the ministry and Jesus.  They will either move closer or begin to look for other people and places that take an interest in them.  

My prayer for us is that students know we care, not because we teach it, but because we live it!


Brooke V. said...

I am guilty and often that parent. I will be putting the phone away in the future. I do see our youth leaders doing this often and thought it was okay. I am thankful someone directed me to your site.
Blessings to you and this ministry.

Dan "the man" said...

wow, i am loving your blog! please keep it up, i look forward to your wisdom and Christ like approach.