Leading You

Isn’t it great how we each have built-in “Start-Fresh” moments throughout the year?

New Year’s Day is a magical moment when everything that happened the year before is (theoretically) wiped clean and you get to decide (for the 18th or 40th or 67th time) who you are going to be this year.

Then there’s your birthday. Every year you get to say “Sayonara!” to your 20’s or to your “early 50’s” or to your “mid-life crisis year” and start fresh with the extinguishing of a few candles.

Spring is one of those times for me. Every time the weather starts getting warmer, the sun starts to shine on places that seemed so dark and gloomy just yesterday and dry limbs sprout bright new growth, I feel an opportunity to start fresh right along with nature.

And this spring, I am determined to start fresh by refocusing my efforts to Make It Personal.

I do a lot for my little preschoolers. I make them a priority by showing up every single week. I make sure they know I am a safe and constant person in their lives. I am intentional about reaching out to parents and looking ahead to big miles stones. But time and time again, I find that when I make those things my main focus, I fall short of experiencing the joy of leading my few.

It’s easy to agree with this statement:

 “The most important thing you need to lead is not your few-it’s actually you.”

However, the hectic pace of life today often makes leading “you” the most difficult of all your SGL tasks. As you lead your little ones and partner with their parents, how well you are leading yourself will begin to show.

I have found, for me, the best way to “lead myself” is to set priorities; and then keep them. Don’t let the simplicity of that concept fool you though. Setting priorities is easy. Keeping them is what’s important.

So what are the priorities we should keep? Let’s narrow it down to three:

 Time with God:

When asked, “What’s the most important thing in your life?” it’s so easy to give that Sunday School answer: “My relationship with God”. But at the end of the day, where have I spent most of my time?

Between projects at the office, yard work at home, sports or school activities, meals, bills, extended family obligations, my time with God can often be relegated to a quick page of a devotional and a prayer as I head out the door to the next event. So to actually prioritize my relationship with God, I have to set time on the calendar and even give up a thing or two out of my day. (Let’s face it, my Hulu queue might need to wait.)

 Time with family:

There is an old saying that God created the family before He created the church, so family should be more important than the church. Our family truly is our first “ministry” and it’s okay to treat them like they are! Give your family the best of you, not just what’s left at the end of the day. That means leaving work in time to beat traffic, protecting weekends, and even getting to bed before midnight so you have the energy for family game night at the end of the week.

 Time for me:

What is it that you love to do? Do that. Get your calendar and schedule fun just like you do every other appointment. Because doing what recharges and refreshes you is as important as doing what is expected of you. Times of relaxing and recharging will keep burnout at bay.

Leading you may seem futile. Pointless. Like a waste of potentially productive time. Because really, will your preschoolers know if you watched the latest New Girl instead of writing in your prayer journal? Probably not. Will their parents notice? Possibly.

But we don’t strive to Make It Personal so we look good in others’ eyes. The truth is, the closer we are walking with our Heavenly Father, the better our reflection of Him will be to our few. And ultimately, you are the one who is missing out when you have to shortchange yourself to give to others.

So how do you protect your time for God, your family and yourself for the sake of you and your few?

Barbara Graves May 25th, 2015 0 comments

Summer Bonus

The key to leading small is showing up—both consistently and randomly in the lives of your few. And summertime provides all kinds of unique opportunities to do just that.

Many churches have planned summer fun—VBS, Kid’s Camps or special activities for kids during the summer. Even though you may not “have” to be there, these are great opportunities to show up in a random and unexpected way!

Gay Tucciarone May 20th, 2015 0 comments

I Belong to You. . .

I belong to you . . .
You belong to me.

Beyond lyrics to a Lumineers song, these two statements can sum up a great relationship within your small group. We understand the fact that everyone needs a place to belong; a group where they are known and welcome. There is something powerful in the sense of belonging. What cements this relationship for your little

Barbara Graves April 27th, 2015 0 comments

I See a Generation

Think with the end in mind.

Such a valuable part of leading small with our few, but it can be elusive sometimes when you are living in preschool world! There are Sundays where it’s hard to see beyond that gentle, quiet Harper, who has many things that happened in her world this week, but Annie won’t be quiet long enough for her to share. Or

Gay Tucciarone April 13th, 2015 0 comments

Serving Young

Your preschool small group is a great place for kids to not only get their first impressions of their Heavenly Father, but also to get their first impressions of what it means to be the church.  As they are beginning to understand that the church is where God’s family gathers, that this is where we all love God and, at least most of the time,

Barbara Graves March 9th, 2015 0 comments

Memorize, Store, Retrieve

Can we really expect a 4-year-old to recite the memory verse two hours after he heard it in your small group on Sunday morning?

Can we expect a 2-year-old to properly pronounce all of those words so that Mom and Dad understand what she is saying?

Yes and, well, yes—at least some of the words with a little help!

First let’s think about why we

Danielle Schneller February 16th, 2015 0 comments

Church is a place to have FUN!

Sometimes I think we need to remind ourselves that church IS a place to have FUN, and to have FUN does not have to be complex, does not require a ton of prep or a huge budget. Fun can be simple!! Give a preschooler a few “props” and just watch their imagination go!!

The First Look “Pirate” theme has helped remind me just how much

Jenny Zimmer February 4th, 2015 1 comment

It’s Hard to See the End

When leading our few preschoolers, some where in between the "be nice" and "share" talks, spilled snacks, “accidents”, crying over hurt feelings (and possibly "she put glue on my sheep not hers" conversations), it is easy to lose sight of thinking with the end in mind.  Our few are at a unique place in development. Their ability to communicate their thoughts and needs are often

Gay Tucciarone January 29th, 2015 2 Comments

Today Could Be “THE” Day!

You just never know what each day with your few may hold and which day could turn out to be THE day.  There were a lot of THE days in the Bible and the people who helped those days happen were simply living their life, day to day in the lives of those who they were influencing.  By choosing to be consistently present in the

Barbara Graves January 23rd, 2015 1 comment

A Year to Remember

As a small group leader, one of your goals is to partner with parents. You hope for the opportunity to team up with the parents of your few and make a combined impact on their faith development. But, often, this is easier said than done, solely based on the hectic nature of Sunday mornings. Parents rush through the check in process to get their child

Barbara Graves January 15th, 2015 1 comment