Over the past few months I’ve received several e-mails from student leaders and youth leaders alike all seeking advice on the same topic: leading group discussion. I’ll be the first to admit, walking into any group and taking the leadership seat can be both intimidating and challenging. I’m a nervous wreck when it comes to leading my peers. So I thought I would spend today sharing some of the tidbits I’ve picked up over the years from working in all sorts of areas of ministry: toddlers, kids, preteens, teens, college students, and even adults. Obviously every group is different, but here are some great reminders to get us going.
1. Life change happens through the Holy Spirit, not through “me.” It can be tempting to carry the ministry on your shoulders. Work at it with all your heart, but entrust these girls to the Lord. He’s the one who will transform them, encourage them, and grow them. We are just the vessels He sometimes chooses to use.
2. Your mission is to live (first) and to teach (second) a life that is glorifying to God. People would rather see a sermon than hear one any day!
3. Love the difficult/challenging person in your group. With some people it’s easy. Others seem impossible and it is that person who needs you.
4. Provide security. Kids especially expect boundaries and guidelines. They need to know what is expected of them and know you mean it. God has given you the authority to lead and guide. Walk in that confidence as you lead them. If you need boundaries with phones, texting, hours… remember that boundaries allow for security and freedom.
5. Be a joyful example! Joy and enthusiasm are contagious. Enthusiasm covers a multitude of sins… meaning… even if you forget a birthday or someone’s first name – if you follow up with a hug or a joyful attitude, anyone will be much more forgiving.
6. When you are with your group – BE with your group. They can tell if you are distracted.
7. Pray for your group! Pray together and pray individually for the people that God has placed under your guidance for the time being.
Now for the super powerful punch. It’s one thing to be able teach, and it’s another thing altogether to be teachable. Here are some learning to lead tips from Mr. Leadership himself, John Maxwell:
1. Learn to listen. As you go through each day, remember that you can’t learn if you’re always talking. As the old saying goes, “There’s a reason you have one mouth and two ears.” As we listen to others and remain humble, we learn things that can help expand our writing and speaking talent.
2. Understand the learning process.
STEP 1: Act.
STEP 2: Look for mistakes and evaluate.
STEP 3: Search for a way to do it better.
STEP 4: Go back to Step 1.
Remember, the greatest enemy of learning is knowing. The goal of all learning is action, not knowledge.
3. Look for and plan for teachable moments. Finding opportunities to learn in every situation will expand our talents to their potential.
4. Make every teachable moment count. Give your audience specific action steps to take that will help them implement what they have learned.
Encourage your group to consider:
Points they need to think about
Changes they need to make
Lessons they need to apply
Information that they need to share
If we want to lead effectively, we need to follow Him closely. Remain humble and teachable. Keep reading and remember that God can use anyone or anything for His glory!
May we be able to say with Paul in all humility, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
-1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV
p.s. For more great tips on leading be sure to follow Kevin East’s blog “Following to Lead!”