The “Be-With” Factor


How many pancakes does it take to make a disciple?

How many pancakes does it take to make a disciple?

A few years ago I was taking a bunch of Middle School boys to play Laser-tag.  As we exited I-90 we came upon a homeless man at the stoplight.  The boys were in a goofy mood like teenage boys are apt to do at times.  One of the boys asked if he could “give the guy a toothpick,” since his sign said “Anything will help.”  The boys were all laughing as we pulled up next to him, and I seized the teachable moment.  I rolled down the window and said, “Hey, I don’t have any cash, but I’ll buy you lunch at Dick’s if you’re hungry.”  His eyes got as wide as saucers as he vigorously shook his head, “yes, please!”  We pulled into the parking lot and I walked over and shook his hand and asked him what he wanted.  “Just a hamburger would be great.”  We ordered our food plus an extra hamburger, shake and fries for our new friend.  The boy who had originally made the toothpick offer was the first to volunteer to take the man his food. The man was very appreciative and we talked for a brief moment before we hopped back in the car. As we started down the road I asked the question, “Why did we do that?” I let them kick it around a bit before landing on the passage in Matthew 24 where Jesus tells us to take care of the poor.  “I was hungry and you fed me…”

As parents and youth workers we must always be on the lookout for teachable moments… they are easily missed. Boys especially are active learners and retain lessons longer when they are brought into the real world. But often we are too hurried to notice those moments and they quickly pass us by, a missed opportunity.  Often times we think of discipleship as a Sunday School class or something similar. But life transfer does not happen in a class. How did Jesus disciple his boys?? Mark 3 says: “After spending the night in prayer he chose those he wanted to “BE WITH’ him.”  Ministry of presence.

As parents and youth workers alike, our greatest desire is to pass on our faith to our kids.  It’s not rocket science; and it’s not as complex as we often make it. To effectively mentor or disciple a student we simply must “BE WITH” them.

We only have a few short years with our children and the rest of our lives to work. The greatest gift we can give teenagers is to “BE WITH” them.

As youth workers many of us have been lulled to sleep by the siren song of technology, incorrectly believing that if we put on a more relevant service with flashy video and a hot band that we will change more kids lives.  It’s not true.

There is no replacement for quantity time.  Not quality time, QUANTITY.

Flashy services aren’t inherently wrong, but they are not the end in itself… they must be the means to an end… which is simply this:

TO GET TEENAGERS INTO AN AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH A CARING ADULT.

Jesus modeled for us his method of discipleship.  How did he transfer his values to a ragtag group of teenage boys??  He simply hung out with them.  As youth workers or parents our goal must be the same.  To walk the road of life with our kids and to look for teachable moments where they watch us live out our Christian faith.

I heard Jeannie Mayo once say…. “Whoever spends the most time with a teenager… wins.”  

And that’s the truth whether you’re a parent or a youth worker.

 For more on this topic read Bo Boshers book, “The Be-With Factor.” Zondervan.

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