Posted on February 14, 2018 |
Many of the leaders we work with are the exact definition of an Uncommon Leader. They have godly character, genuine commitment, growing competence, and the ability to influence, equip, and care for others. But this doesn’t mean they always feel like they are great at all of those things. In fact, in many cases we’ve found that we often have a higher view of the leader’s potential than they do. We may think someone has all the potential in the world to be a great leader while they struggle with feelings of incompetence. You may be struggling with those exact feelings right now.
So what causes this lack of confidence in a small group leader? Here are the top 5 reasons we’ve found for why a leader loses confidence, as well as some tips on how to get the right type of encouragement and support you need to grow.
No small group leader starts out having already experienced every situation. Eventually, every leader will find themselves confronted with situations they’ve never been in before. This inexperience can easily cause a loss of confidence, especially when the leader truly wants to lead well, but isn’t sure how to proceed. The key here is to make a simple switch. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do this,” ask yourself, “How can I grow here?” Then (and this is the really important part), ask for help. Reach out to your pastor, coach, or another leader, to learn what to do. Better yet, open your Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. Ask for a fresh view on your circumstances. Turn your inexperience into growth.
- Lack of Training
While unfamiliar situations can bring growth in moments of inexperience, this doesn’t mean that leaders should neglect preparing ahead of time as much as possible. It’s important to learn from other more experienced leaders on what lies ahead in a small group. This is often possible through formal training events at your church, by consuming training resources such as those found on the Vertical Small Groups store page, or even just having a one-on-one conversation with your coach or pastor on how they’ve struggled as a leader in the past. By pursuing every training opportunity you have available, you’ll not only reduce the likelihood of being caught off guard during a crisis in your group, but you’ll also become aware of what people and resources are available to you if you need some extra help along the way.
- Wrong Expectations
Discipleship is hard work, but not everyone realizes that at first. Some go into small group leadership thinking it’ll be more like a weekly get-together with friends. Others see small group as a social club, where you center your meetings around sports or kids or hobbies or conversation, all with a little light Bible study on the side. Some see small group as a support group, where you come and vent to each other about your spouse or health issues, have a good cry together, get some positive affirmation and a pat on the back, and you’re good to go for another week. But what happens when someone in your group reaches a real crisis—a crumbling marriage, an ongoing addiction, or a tragic event? Are you equipped to deal with their spiritual needs in that moment? While training and preparation are important here, the real key is to build authentic, Christ-centered relationships with your members early on. To get there, you have to dig beneath the surface from the very start. There are always coaches, pastors, and counselors to help, but what your member really needs is more God, more Scripture, and a friend who knows them personally and cares for them deeply. Check out our blog on why vulnerability is important to your small group for more help with this!
Sometimes a leader has some experience leading a group, has proper training, and knows what to expect, and yet he or she still thinks they are not the right person for the job. Moses felt the same way in Exodus 3-4. But this type of insecurity is a good thing, with the right focus. We should never feel like we are the ones responsible for changing our members’ lives. God never gives us a task and then tells us to go it alone. Just as He did with Moses, God promises Himself to us. He says, “I will be with you.” That means that even when you don’t feel like you ever say the right thing, or know the right scripture, or ever make progress, God is accomplishing exactly what He intended to. There is power and freedom knowing that Jesus said, “Follow me,” and not, “Lead the way.” Use your insecurity to humble yourself, admit to God you can’t do it alone, and ask for help and meekness.
- Lack of Faith
And this all brings us to our final reason small group leaders lose confidence. Maybe you got this far, but none of the previous reasons really seemed to describe you. Maybe you know how to be successful as a small group leader, and you’ve even taken the right steps to ensure that success, but you’re still not getting there. This could be due to a lack of faith. It’s OK, we’ve all been there at some point. But don’t incubate that fear, or that apathy, or that indifference. Instead, confess it. Want to really start a fire of mutual ministry in your group? Confess to your members that you’re just not feeling it. Ask them to hold you accountable to spend more time in God’s Word and more time in prayer to seek the Lord’s help and build your trust in Him. Confess to them that you want to see God move in your group and that you want their passion and their growth to increase as well. Commit to praying as a group that God would ignite that spark so all will benefit from increased love, commitment, and vulnerability in your group. But also keep in mind that none of this will happen if you don’t believe God can do it in the first place!