nuggets: 12 seconds & ministry partners

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be briefly noting fundamental truths and methods I learned in my first year of college ministry – that continue to bear fruit in my ministry today. One or two a day. Quick, because I know these are busy days.

(Remember, if you think it might be helpful, tell your student leaders to tune in for the next week or two. These should be really applicable for them!)

[The whole series can now be seen right here.]

12 seconds

In one of my psychology classes, we learned that teachers need to wait at least 12 seconds for a group to answer a question. Twelve seconds! Now, I don’t have the source for that statistic, but I took his word for it. And when I had the chance to use that “rule” in my first year of ministry, I saw how much it mattered.

Twelve seconds can feel like forever (go ahead, pause 12 seconds right now). But it takes a long time for your group to formulate answers! And the better the answer, the longer it may take! I’ve definitely noticed that I nearly always get a response to questions I ask groups of students – if I’m willing to wait for it.

We should always be okay with silence. But my prof also said it was okay to ask the question and then fill some of the remaining 12 seconds, while people think about answers. My favorite ways to do that are:

  • Tell them about how my college professor told them I should wait twelve whole seconds
  • Happily let them know that I can outlast them in the silence and that I’m okay with the awkwardness
  • Restate the question in a helpful way


In my first year of college ministry, I had a co-leader – and I’ve had the opportunity to have a couple more full ministry partners since then. Though it adds to the messiness, adds a potential for conflict, and adds time to the schedule… it has been SO worth it. Those partners have been some of the biggest blessings in my life; my partner from that first year is even named on the dedication page of my book.

If you don’t have an official ministry partner, you might think about gathering around yourself unofficial partners: collaborators, co-leaders, student leaders, thinkin’-buddies, spouses – including a person or people with viewpoints that will sometimes differ from your own.

Trust God and share some of the planning – if not some of the authority – for your ministry. Or at least consider it!

For those who do have a partner – including student leaders with partners – know that this has the potential for real glory in your life… EVEN if right at this very moment, it’s not the partner you woulda picked. Trust God, and serve that person. Be excited about how God will use them in your life, too. You might just be surprised!


[Click to comment, ask questions, or see any comments on this post!]


  1. Pingback: best-of-the-blog: training small group leaders « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

Leave a Reply