At my church, we constantly tell our kids they can trust God no matter what. It’s like a code of honor for us, and we make sure to teach and reteach that phrase so that the kids will remember it when they need to do just that. We provide verses and stories from the Bible to illustrate this point, but we can’t always give them real-life examples of how this can be difficult to live out. Recently, we had an SGL decide to do exactly that.
A few months ago, one of our SGLs was diagnosed with cancer.
It was a very treatable cancer. Still, the road ahead was sure to be bumpy. As he was thinking about God’s plan for him, he realized that God wanted him to use this as a teachable moment for the boys in his small group. But as an SGL of elementary school boys, he knew how delicate sharing personal information could be. So he discussed with a few staff members how and when to share the news with discernment and appropriateness.
His intent was not to get sympathy. He was not looking for more prayers, or needing a place to vent. His only purpose was to provide his few boys with a clear picture of what it looks like to trust God no matter what. A few weeks later, I got an email from him letting me know how it went.
This was the conversation between the SGL and his few:
“Boys, I’m going to tell a short story and ask a couple questions. When I was a little boy, about your age, I remember sitting in church hearing about Jesus. I was always confused by how long ago He lived. I used to look around at all the adults and wonder, ‘Do these adults really KNOW Jesus lived 2,000 years ago?’ This was just one question I had growing up. Do any of you sometimes have questions when you learn something new in church?”
(A third of the hands went up.)
“It’s okay to have questions. Sometimes, it’s the best way to learn about Jesus. Who remembers what we hear all the time in [church]? It starts, ‘I can trust God. . .”
(They all finished with NO MATTER WHAT.)
“I am telling you about questions and reminding you that we can trust God no matter what because my doctor told me I am sick with a kind of cancer that has to be taken out with surgery. When the doctor said I was sick, I had a lot of questions. But I am not afraid. I am sure that God will be with the doctor during surgery. I am not worried because I KNOW I can trust God no matter what.”
As small group leaders, we often hear that our kids can’t handle the weight of our personal lives. And to some extent, that is true. Small group isn’t the place to work out the day-to-day drama of your life. But sometimes, speaking the truth—with discernment—allows your few to be drawn into a greater understanding of God at work in your life. It gives them a front row seat to a real-life adventure of pursuing authentic faith. And really—that’s what our job is all about, isn’t it?