This post is the tenth post in a ten part series ... Small Group Leader Training. For more posts in this series check out the series frontpage.
A Leader needs to take initiative ... but in a healthy way.
The last two posts - focusing on Invitation and Investment - related most directly to the early life-stages of a Group. But this soft skill - Initiative - runs through the entire time.
As Group Leaders, many of us find ourselves rocked back into a passive stance. We respond to the Group. "Who is hurting? Who needs help? Who is in a talkative mood today" we find ourselves asking. We go with the flow ... or think we do.
But we often forget that we're knee deep in the work God's doing in someone's life. God has taken initiative to grow and change and transform these people he loves. And God's work, his initiative is being actively opposed, opposed by the system and The Man and the satan and even the hearts of these people we've come to care for.
So, the flow can't be trusted.
The person who's hurting and is vocal about it may not be the only hurting person in the room. They person asking for help may not actually need it. Our talkative savior, who rescues us from the bondage of awkward silence, may be short-circuting something bigger God is doing through the silence.
So, we have to take initiative ... active, not just passive ... but we have to do this in a way that reflects the bigger work that God is doing. Our initiative as Leaders has to follow his initiative as Savior and Redeemer.
As such, we have to become brave interpreters of God's activity in the lives of the people in our Group. We can't settle for cheap answers to the question "What's God doing in your life?" and we can't neglect that question.
This stance, one of initiative, is hardest to take during the Live-it-up stage in the life of a Group. The Group feels like it can run itself. You're guiding. You don't want to get in the way. And I don't want you to get in the way.
But in our role as Leaders, we have to become experts at identifying the work of God, communicating the initiative of God, and pushing our Group to follow God in what he's doing.
Sometimes this looks like challenging the Group to do a service project.
Sometimes this looks like throwing a party to celebrate someone's sobriety.
Sometimes this looks like writing a letter, a concrete reminder of God's work.
Sometimes this looks like leading a retreat, to get space to reflect on God's work.
Through it all we as Leaders take initiative, distrustful of the flow, confident that God is doing something, something special and worth paying attention to.
Where do you see God at work in the lives of people in your Groups?