The small group leader, who also oversees several other small groups in the church, was overwhelmed and exhausted. After a couple of intense years of leadership, she did not see what she had expected: loving community, spiritual growth and ministry growth. What she saw was poor attendance, critical attitudes and lack of interest. She was tired and discouraged. She directed her anxiety at herself. She was not leading well, not choosing the right curriculum or not providing the right training for the groups and leaders. She had to do more but she didn’t have a clue what that should be.
She cried out to God in prayer.
Over the next few weeks, three group members discovered serious illnesses that required tests, surgery and hospitalizations. The group members looked to her for answers. She had none. She thought about Jesus’ promise from Matthew 18: 20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” She asked the group to come together to be in the presence of Jesus. They would ask Jesus what to do. They committed to praying together regularly and praying twice a day for each other for a period of time.
A couple of months later, many things were different. Most of the health issues were resolved with good results. The people were also different. They were praying together, sharing what they were learning and experiencing answers to prayer. She saw love and concern for each other, eagerness to meet and study together.
She changed too. She learned her responsibility was simply to bring people together in the presence of Jesus. She still handled the details of the group and prepared to lead but she could not take responsibility for the results. The heavy burden of leadership has become light.
I am challenged by this story. I have been asking myself…
If my role, as a small group leader is to bring people into the presence of Jesus, how does that change how I prepare for group meetings? How I lead group meetings? I have some idea, how about you?