Small confession here: I am a list freak.

I have lists on paper, sticky notes, my iPhone and even swirling in my head. These lists are addicting. It feels good to create a picture of the work I need to accomplish and then check it off one by one as if I was shooting tin cans off a wall with a BB Gun. Even for seemingly small tasks, the sense of accomplishment feels so much greater if I can cross it out somewhere.

Truth be told, I don’t think I’m all that different from you or your neighbor down the street. We all look for ways to feel accomplished. We all have our tools that tell us we are doing something with our time and talents.

As great as lists are, they can also be a big problem. Have you ever made a list in an attempt to procrastinate doing something else? You knew it was a big project so you started by…making a list. (And maybe another and another….?) You get the picture.

I’m not saying lists are all bad. You should definitely have one that reminds you to read the lesson before Sunday! However, if we aren’t careful, leading a small group of kids or students can fall victim to a “check in the box” mindset.

Did I show up? Check!
Did I participate? Check!
Did I lead all the activities? Check!
Did everyone return safely to his or her parents? Check!

A mental checklist can thwart our best intentions because the focus is the task and not the people around us. It’s important that every volunteer – especially small group leaders – know when they have hit a home run in their position. It’s not about putting a check in the box; it’s about building relationships.

As a small group leader, your primary role is to love the kids or students that are entrusted to you. That means that we care more about relationships than relays.

It’s more than a check in the box that you showed up again; it’s about being trustworthy.

It’s more than accomplishing all the activities; it’s providing a safe place for students to clarify their faith.

It’s more than giving your “fix it” sage wisdom; it’s about inspiring them with examples from your own life.

Building relationships is like an adventurous expedition. The best thing you can do to prepare you for the journey and avoid the “list” syndrome is to clarify the win for your time in small group. So why not give it some practice here? If you had to summarize the “win” into a short phrase, what would you say?

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