“Well, it seems like we all agree so let’s move on,” remarks a summarizer. These folks often complete people’s sentences or ideas, and eagerly—often impatiently—stifle deeper discussion by offering simple or superficial comments as the final conclusion. They think, Haven’t we been over this territory already? I thought we decided this! They are apt to reach conclusions too quickly and cut off participation, especially from quieter members who need time to reflect and process.
I confess this one bugs me the most. To a challenging issue or complex personal problem the spiritualizer may say, “Let’s just remember the blood of Jesus and know that all things will work together for good. We need to simply trust and obey!”
Such comments may include legitimate spiritual truths in them, but are often used to avoid painful realities, ignore the complexity of a situation, or medicate one’s own ambiguity or discomfort with the direction of the discussion. It might be appropriate to acknowledge after such a comment that, indeed, God is at work and we certainly can trust him, but we also need to listen to the details and explore ways we can support this group member through prayer, practical help, and other resources.
The Effort Is Worth It!
It will take you some time to learn these keys and experiment with them. The main idea is to realize you have a variety of tools in your leadership toolkit for guiding discussions that are biblically sound, relationally engaging, and lead to true transformation. Good starters, artful questions, balance between life and truth, and awareness of discussion killers will help you lead life-changing discussions.
Lead on and lead well!
—Dr. Bill Donahue is a Group Life Consultant, Leadership Coach, and Professor at Trinity International University. You can find more at drbilldonahue.com.