At one of our biggest events of the year, he just walks up to me in the perfect awkward high school way and says, “So I heard that you take some students out to coffee sometimes and talk about stuff.”

“I do do that sometimes yes. Is that something you would like to do?”

“Yes, I got some stuff going on.”

It was awesome. This senior in high school who has been coming off and on (more off than on) to our Wednesday night program finally decided to step out, for what he has been wanting to do for weeks now, and ask for him guidance.

It’s moments like these that keep us doing what we do isn’t it?

The next day we met at Starbucks and we were able to get to know each other a little bit more and I got to hear his story and things he has been struggling with. As much as I love the big events and the crazy services, I love being able to sit down knee-to-knee with a student and just talk life. When a student decides to make themselves known for the first time, it is such a big deal and great first step to help them lean on God and find their purpose.

So what do you do when you meet with a student you don’t know very well in order to help set them up for the future and continue to pour into them? As I was processing this, I wrote a few things down:

Get to hear their story – I didn’t really know him. After I bought him some coffee, I just said, “Tell me your story” and I let him go. I always have stuff to say or advice to give, but I can’t point people in the right direction if I don’t know what got them to this point to talk to me in the first place.

Listen more than you speak – I think in many cases when students get a chance to speak and adults listen it is very beneficial to them. Many cases, students don’t feel like they can be heard. You don’t know if they get shut down at home or school or work when they try to speak up. When a student knows they are being heard, it huge! So just sit back and listen for a bit.

Ask really good questions – Jesus was the master of asking questions. I want to be more like him. For most of the meeting as I was getting to know this student, when ever I did speak, it would be a question and as he dove deeper and deeper into his story you can see where he was coming from and the hurt behind why he does what he does. A good question could open the door to healing.

Help them take baby steps – In all honesty we didn’t leave with this life changing experience. We know that we don’t have the power to change anyone. Students don’t have the power to change themselves. Only God through the Holy Spirit has the ability to change us from the inside out. With our first meetings and him not coming on a regular basis, we set up another meeting in 2 weeks and challenged him to make church a consistent thing. For the next month, make Wednesdays a priority and see what happens. I gave him the 21 Day Prayer Challenge I had written and challenged him to take 21 days and pray through it and see if he does not see God or at least is more aware of how is working in his life and we will talk about it when we meet next. Baby steps are great to nudge students into the presence of God.

DoI do this with every student? At least with all the students who I don’t really know all that well. The students in my small group and am really close to, there will be a different set of questions and maybe a little more back and forth, but I think this is a great way to begin that process.

What do you do when you meet with a student or a one-on-one for the first time?