Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Power of One-On-One

Once upon a time when I was a young punk youth pastor I got a call from my senior pastor. "Hey Mark, how's it going?" he asked. "Good Ernest," I replied and wondered what he wanted. "I've got some time today," he said, "how about we go out for coffee?" Immediately I said yes. Ernest was a busy guy (as most pastors are) and for him to take time to just spend with me was . . . well . . . special. In fact in the several years I had worked with him it had only happened a handful of times. I cherished those times and looked forward to it.

Finally the time came for him to pick me up (in his old 80 something yellow Ford Truck). When I hopped in we started driving and then he casually said "Oh by the way, I've asked ______ if he would like to join us today. You don't mind do you?" "Um, sure, no problem," I said. But when I thought about it later I realized that yes, I had actually minded. I was disappointed that I didn't get that one-one-one time with him that he had implied we would have. And even worse I realized that I had done the exact same thing to the students in my youth ministry many times. Ouch!

Later as a camp director we had decided that we were going to change the way we interacted with our staff at camp. Following the LiMiT style of camp leadership, we began to make sure that all of our counselling staff got to meet with someone from the director team for at least 40 minutes, once a week. We were worried that this kind of "program" approach to connecting and discipleship would be too awkward and formal and we prepared to meet with some resistance. To our surprise no one objected and most of the staff strongly appreciated these times. Staff conflict went down, staff morale and performance went up. I think we can safely say there is a strong hunger for us to meet with those who we look up to, care for, or want to learn from. And we want do it one-on-one.

One-on-ones are the secret ingredient for success in so many ventures. It is the essence of dating, the glue of marriage, the heart of parenting, and the soul of mentoring. If a relationship is in conflict, meeting one-on-one is the start of the solution and regular one-on-one's keep relationship's from going there in the first place. Quality one-one-ones help people to feel cared for, known, and valued. I have a friend with whom I have been an unofficial mentor for over 12 years. I saw him this Christmas. First we hung out in a family gathering style context but eventually it was getting late. I asked him if he wanted to go for a drive and he jumped at the opportunity. Just the two of us, we drove and talked for several hours about all sorts of life, relationship, and spiritual things. My time and presence was the greatest gift I could give him. And I enjoyed it immensely as well. It felt like I had accomplished something worthwhile.

Two challenges here: First, is there someone close to you that could benefit from a quality one-on-one? Your spouse, one of your kids, a friend, or maybe someone looking for some guidance? Why not give them the gift of your time and presence?

Secondly, is there someone you know who you would love to spend time with? Why not ask them specifically if you could go for coffee/a hike/a drive with them? Sometimes we sulk, waiting around for those we love and appreciate to spend time with us. Maybe we need to take action and make the first move? This post is just a little reminder. For myself and maybe for others: Life is busy but we need to make the time to connect with people one-on-one. Almost nothing else will make a stronger impression on them.


Moxymama said...

I try to make this type of time for my daughter weekly. With my husband's work schedule though it's hard sometimes to carve out that time but I know it's important and she loves going places with "just the girls, not the boys."

Dayna said...

this was my absolute favorite part of youth and camp ministry, as a youth/camp staff and as a youth leader/as. director... i even had a signature 1-on-1 booth at jessie's grill (mark, this is the new name for doreen's in riverton, in case yu're not up-to-date!) i sure look forward to many more "official ministry" 1-on-1s in the future!

also, i used to b-sit for a family who had regular one-on-ones. either the mom or the dad would take out each of the kids (then ages 4,5, and 6) individually, once a month! i knew about this and being snoopy, i looked at their calander. sure enough, every month had 3 dates filled with "josh's date-night with mom/dad" (and so on) i thought it was great and hope to implement something like it one day with ym own family.

Alyssa said...

I remember, from my days of being a counselor at BCBC (only the BEST place in the world!), how much I really appreciated those 1:1 times. It didn't matter that it was scheduled...the important part was that there was time set aside to share with each other. It was a time to be encouraged and challenged. Those were special times:) I need to do more of that.

Lindsey Dueck said...

I am probably the most akward at one on ones. But recently I did one with one of the youth girls. I was SO nervous and didn't know what to say, but it turned out amazing. God is good!