10 “See that you don’t look down on one of these little ones, because I tell you that in heaven their angels continually view the face of My Father in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save the lost. 12 What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them goes astray, won’t he leave the 99 on the hillside and go and search for the stray? 13 And if he finds it, I assure you: He rejoices over that sheep more than over the 99 that did not go astray. 14 In the same way, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones perish.“ Matthew 18:10-14 HCSB
The other day, as I was preparing for some “back to school” stuff, I noticed something. As a young youth minister, I remember how at the middle of my early seminary days I would start to kind of begin to coast toward the end of the year. By that I mean, I would let myself wind down and just try to get to the end of the year without much effort instead of finishing strong. I would combat that, but barely overcome. I decided to use this as an illustration for my students and tell them that even though Summer was ending, they could march strong into their new school year without coasting or falling to the wayside.
At the end of my lesson, I decided to offer prayer for any students who were feeling that way. When I asked if anyone felt that way, to my surprise, I got one, “no,” and not much more response except for one, what I thought, was a pity ‘amen.’ To save face, I just had the students pray for one another that they would fight the “coast effect” that the end of Summer brings and enter the new school year with their heads held high.
I felt a little embarrassed because I was certain at least a few of the students felt that way, but I just shrugged it off. However, a student approached me afterward and thanked me for that word. She explained she was struggling with that and she thought my prayer was very timely. She reiterated how she did not want to just coast after the Summer but really do her best. My wife and I offered her encouragement, and suggested a few scriptures.
Did I walk away discouraged? No, I did not. In fact, I was very encouraged! One person was touched by what I had to say, and that was good enough for me. Sometimes, we want to put such an emphasis on a church-wide or “corporate” effect that we forget we’re here to reach the individual. While true, reaching the many is important, but I feel often, it is about reaching the one.