This takes a lot of pressure off leadership. You don’t have to be prepared for every possible thing that can happen in your group. You will handle those issues when you get to them. And if you don’t know how, say something like, “I’m not sure how to respond right now, but I will figure it out before our next meeting.” Your group members will appreciate your honesty.
3. Enlist help.
As new leaders get started, leadership can suddenly feel overwhelming. After all, you’re required to get to know your group members, ask questions, lead the discussion, pray, and more. But are you really? The truth is that small groups are stronger when group members help out and take ownership of the group. While you’re probably the best person to lead the discussion, maybe someone else could lead the prayer time. Find someone who can be in charge of planning fun group activities, and enlist someone who can host the meeting or take care of snacks. This can engage your group members in the group, and it can actually empower them to tap into their skills, gifts, and passions. You don’t have to do everything—and you shouldn’t.
4. Tell someone how you’re feeling.
New leaders who are beginning to question whether they want to be a leader often are afraid to tell anyone. They don’t want to look bad for going back on a decision, and they don’t want to let down their small-group pastor or coach. We worry about what others will think of us, especially if we’re still figuring out what we want to do. But here’s my advice: tell an “encouragement partner” who can hear you out, talk to you honestly, and pray for you. This may be your coach, a friend, another small-group leader, or someone else entirely. It feels vulnerable to do this, but I have found that leaders who do this feel so much better—regardless of what they ultimately decide to do. Our fears and anxieties always seem bigger in our head, so voicing them to a safe person can do wonders in giving us an accurate picture of what we’re feeling. Sometimes there are real concerns that need to be addressed, and your “encouragement partner” can help with that. Other times, we simply need to be encouraged to stick with it, and this person can help with that, too. Either way, this person can be a prayer partner, and that can make a huge difference in how you’re feeling.
5. Trust that God’s got your group under control.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned in small-group ministry is that God is in control—even of my small group. Of course, I always knew this, but now I know it. I’ve led a number of groups over the years, and they’ve all been very different, each bringing different worries. One was focused on inductive Bible study, and I was really worried about a person who dominated the discussion, talking way more than his share of the meeting. I learned a lot about facilitating great discussions because of him, but even better, I saw how God used that guy to actually encourage others. I had one group member who told me that he learned so much from his insights that they actually decided to meet outside of group to continue the conversation. Another person in that group decided to go on to seminary because he developed such a love for the Word after hearing this guy talk so passionately about the Bible.