Shepherding Broken People

When your group shares their deepest hurts, how do you respond?

One of the small groups in my church has been together for a few months now. Some time ago, during one of the group gatherings this icebreaker question was asked: "What's your biggest battle in life right now?" The small group leader was expecting fairly benign responses, typical of other question responses he had received in recent weeks. But instead what happened was walls began to be knocked down and people began to share the most heart-wrenching battles of their souls—past and present addictions, struggles with guilt over past sins, and more.

As a group leader, what do you do with this type of information? I appreciate what professional counselor and author Larry Crabb says when recalling many counseling sessions he has been in and thinking, I don't have a clue what to tell them—they need professional help!

On those occasions, when your group of people who previously seemed to have it "all together" suddenly seems desperately in need of professional help, what is our natural reaction? Chances are, like Jesus, we feel their pain and at that moment we want to see them get out of that pain. Since we feel inadequate to help them get out of their pain, we sometimes say: "Have you considered seeing a counselor?" Or, "Maybe you should join a support group for people with these issues." Either one of those options could be a good path to take. But, consider this. Is our goal in the Christian life to figure out what to do so that people won't experience the pain of life? Or, is it our goal to walk with them through that pain so that above all else, Jesus becomes a greater influence in their life than their pain and suffering? "My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you." (2 Corinthians ...

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