Q: I am leading a small group Bible study, and to be honest, I'm not sure I'm up to it. I'm afraid I'll embarrass myself or say something wrong, or that the group won't like the study. Can you suggest some help for a scared leader?
A: Every leader - whether he leads a small group, a church, or a country - faces doubts about his ability from time to time. But those hesitations don't have to get the best of us.
Kevin Thompson listed four internal and four external obstacles to effective Christian leadership in the book Equipping the Saints (Christians in Action Campus Ministry, 1981). I have adapted them for small group leaders.
Poor Self-Image or Sense of Inadequacy - This is not an uncommon feeling among leaders. But remember that God has chosen to use the "foolish," weak, lowly things in this world, so that no one can boast (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-31). We rely more on God's power and wisdom than our own. Don't demand more of yourself than the Lord is asking, and don't become enslaved to others' expectations (or to what you think others expect of you).
Fear of Failure - You are not perfect. So expect to make mistakes. The only way you won't make a mistake is if you never try anything - and that would be one of the biggest mistakes of all! Step out with God's help, and when you do make mistakes, learn from them.
Discouragement and Disappointment - Things don't always turn out the way we went them to, and we can get discouraged or disappointed. Remember that you are part of the group, and members of healthy groups encourage one another. If you're not receiving encouragement, ask for it: "I've had a rough week - things don't seem to be turning out as I planned. I need some encouragement." Don't forget Proverbs ...