The leadership God has entrusted to you is a precious gift of grace (Ephesians 3:7) you should never take for granted. Accept it willingly, develop it, and multiply it by the mighty working of his power. Be a good steward of his gift to you!
Healthy small-group leaders are friends.
Jesus called his group members "friends." But perhaps that word meant more to Jesus than we think: "Greater love has no one than this," Jesus said, "to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13). Real friendship is sacrificial.
A healthy group is comprised of genuine friends. A healthy leader considers the members of the group as his or her friends, not as students, participants, or "people who show up to our meetings." As the leader, you invest into those friendships. A group member from our church wrote:
Joe and I have been in small group with Gary for about five years now. I wasn't sure about joining a "Bible study," but this group is so much more. The friendships we have formed are everlasting. Our small group, with Gary as our leader, not only studies the Bible, but we hold each other up; we encourage each other in good and bad times; we have moments where we laugh and sometimes cry; we love each other no matter what; and we know in our hearts that Jesus Christ is always with us. Gary keeps us focused, and he is one of the best friends Joe and I could ever have!
Wouldn't you want someone in your group to say the same about you? Become their friend!
Healthy small-group leaders are friends with non-Christ-followers.
Small-group leaders may or may not have the spiritual gift of evangelism, but they do intentionally seek out friendships with those who are not yet friends with God. These friendships are genuine and unconditional … no strings attached. Yes, they pray diligently for their friends and watch for opportunities to share their story and the gospel, but they don't leverage the relationship to force conversations about Christ. Rather, they allow God to use them to shine his light. They allow the overflow of God's love to pour out of their lives naturally.
Jesus was known as a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Luke 7:34). Why? Because he "came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). Healthy leaders model this Christ-like attribute for the rest of the group. They model praying regularly for friends and neighbors who do not yet know Christ. They model inviting friends to the group. They team with other group members to pray for and reach out to seeking friends. They get out of their comfort zones to go into the world of non-Christians.
Healthy small-group leaders are shepherds.
Transformed, surrendered leaders invest relationally into and lovingly guide the group that God puts under their care. I believe being a shepherd is the main role of the small-group leader. All the other attributes describe how to do this one well. God's Word is rich in its discussion about shepherding. Here are just two passages that describe the shepherd-leader's role:
"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young" (Isaiah 40:11, NLT). Great small group leaders invest relationally into the members of the group, and not just during group meetings!