There’s a guy who used to spend hours every week investing in students. Coaching, teaching, leading discussions, hosting events — he and his wife were regulars.

Then his life hit speed bumps. They slowed him down and his involvement faded. First he avoided eye contact, then he dropped out. Can you fill in teaching next week? Nope. How about next month? Sorry.

When I finally caught up with him, here’s what he told me. It’s dread. He dreads standing in front of the students. Dreads teaching them. Dreads being there. He told me as if something sinister were afoot.

Actually, it happens all the time — especially when we lose touch with students personally. Stop hanging around with them, talking with them, listening to their lives, praying for them by name, caring about their setbacks and opportunities, and suddenly they’re a crowd.

It happens in marriage, with friends and family, and at work. When personal fades, distance increases.

My friend was relieved, and so was I. And I’m hoping I’ll see him in the hallways and at events talking with students, because he and they need each other.

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