These people share your passion for small-group ministry and understand its joys and challenges. They help you get fresh ideas, think through strategies, provide resources, become a sounding board, and energize your spirit because they "get it." You can find these people in your ministry team, in other churches, at conferences, or through social media. For example, the open Facebook group for the Small Group Network is a terrific source for sharing information and building friendships among people in small-group ministry.
Because churches are filled with sinful people like us, ministry is messy. Having a friend who speaks truth in a grace-filled way is a huge asset. Much like "iron sharpening iron," this person asks insightful questions, helps us process whatever is happening, and provides clarity in murky situations. It is easy to be blinded by our egos and defense mechanisms. Truth-tellers can hold up a mirror to reveal the strengths and flaws in our character and behavior. More importantly, they speak truth in an encouraging and gentle way. These people see you clearly, cheer you on, and put wind back in your sails.
Though we may have our families and small groups praying for us, I find it powerfully comforting to have someone to whom I can always turn for prayer. There are people with the gift of intercessory prayer who make it their ministry to pray for others. Several years ago, God blessed me with the gift of a prayer warrior at our church. I barely knew her, but this elder's wife approached me and told me that my new responsibilities on the executive team would require more prayer support. She was absolutely right. She then made a commitment to pray for me every day. I am so humbled and thankful for her faithful prayers.
Life Skill Experts
This is a catch-all category for experts who help you manage certain necessary areas of your life. It could be a financial planner, therapist, medical professional, life coach, dietitian, or personal trainer. You might consult this person for expert advice before moving forward with a plan or ask him or her to keep you on track with your goals. This person can assist you in particular areas so you can be more effective overall.
Like organizations with a board of directors, a healthy leader needs a personal board of trusted advisors with different functions and perspectives. A personal board of directors is not created in one day, but rather developed over time. Though it might be challenging to find the time or energy to intentionally invest in these relationships, it's well worth it. Look around and see whom God has already put into your life to fulfill some of these roles. They will help you become a more effective leader, and, more importantly, encourage you to be the person God has created you to be.
—Carolyn Taketa is the Executive Director of Small Groups at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California, and an editorial advisor for SmallGroups.com; copyright 2014 by Christianity Today.