One of the most important things to remember in leadership is that – amazingly – everyone doesn’t think like you do.
It’s a lesson I learn time and again. And I’m a little surprised every time!
It’s like this. I’m the kind of deranged person who likes leading. I like speaking. I feel comfortable being in front of a group. I prepare less than I probably should, and most of the time it works out.
But as I’m working with new small group leaders, I’m constantly reminded that just because I prefer to work a certain way doesn’t mean everyone does. I prefer to “feel out” a group discussion and let it flow rather than following a structured layout. It’s a little “non-conformist” in me, I guess. Those “Bible study” books just seem so rigid and boring.
But I’ve also been in a lot of groups (good and bad!). I’m interested in leadership. I’ve studied and watched how group dynamics work. I even have some theological background to ‘help out’ when people ask questions.
Other people may be excellent group leaders, but they may not have the same personality, background, desire, or time to do the same back-work that may come naturally for me. I can’t expect perfectly capable, gifted leaders who are simply gifted in different ways to conform to my favorite approach. Some may need less structure. Some may need more.
In the past, as I’ve trained leaders, I’ve taken an unstructured approach. You’re smart. I’m going to support and walk with you, but I’m not going to tell you a step-by-step way to make a group happen. I still think that’s a valuable approach. We can sometimes get so structured we squash out any community or uniqueness of a group.
But it’s also important to give people options. Maybe I love Discovery Questions – a style of small group where the group reads a passage and then talks through it based on some simple questions. It’s a format anyone can use. But at the same time, it may not fit other people’s styles.
So, our leader training and support is constantly evolving to provide a menu of options. We want all of our groups to have the same values, but how those values “flesh out” in life will look different. Instead of leaving it there, though, I’m now working on different ‘samples‘ of how to start a group, how to lead discussion, serve the community, etc. Instead of fitting into my style, they’re more likely to find the one that gets them excited, which will lead to a healthier, and hopefully more fruitful, group.