For the past twelve years I have led a male small group.  Over the years I have learned a few tricks and a few bad habits on how to lead a group of guys. But I have noticed that over the past few years, I have become more impatient with my few.  I easily get frustrated if a few of my guys aren’t growing in their faith, or are being disrespectful towards me or others in the group, or don’t return a text message, or refuse to pray out loud, or have deep conversations during small group…

I think there is this tendency that the longer you lead a small group, the more likely you will become impatient with your few.

In fact, medical doctors struggle with this same thing.  Recent studies show that the further medical doctors get into their medical practice the less patient they become towards their patients.

Every small group leader has to fight the temptation not to get impatient with their few when they don’t meet our expectations.

This is completely normal and part of the growing process for any small group leader.

Whenever I found myself getting impatient with my few, I step back and remind myself of these four principles:

  1. Our few must be lead from where they are — currently — at.  Our task is to get these students in position to have a growing relationship with Christ. You start with where they are at, not with where you are at.  When leading small group discussions remember to appeal to both the real and felt needs of your few.  Figure out where each of your students are spiritually at and lead them from there.
  2. It all about God’s timing and not our timing.  This is a tough one for me.  I love to expedite the spiritual growth of my few.  But it isn’t about me trying to get them to grow.  It is about me planting the seeds; that maybe, one day, will exponentially grow. But there are no guarantees.  This is why leading a small group is so difficult because there isn’t overnight results to measure.  Rely on God to keep working on your few, but it is all on His time table.  So just relax, take a deep breath, and know that you aren’t the Holy Spirit.
  3. Just offer your love, grace, support, and prayers for your few.  We have two jobs as small group leaders.  (1)  Always keep pointing our few to Jesus.  (2)  Always keep loving on our few like Jesus loved us. That’s it.   Love over time is what matters most. That is all we as small group leaders are called and equipped to do.
  4. Have fun.  Remember to laugh a lot with your few. Leading a small group is a gift and suppose to be a blast.  There’s no need to get stressed out if your few are not growing in their faith.   Reggie Joiner talks about in the book Playing for Keeps, “Fun over time convinces your few you actually like them and deepens and strengthens your relationship with them.”       

 

I know for me my patience levels have decreased with my few.  What about you? My guess is you are a way better small group leader and more patient than I am.  So hopefully these four principles can help you out if or when you ever get stuck.

What are other tips you use when becoming frustrated with your few?

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Jeremy holds a B.A. in Communication from University of Minnesota as well as a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has a passion for connecting with and learning from student pastors, deliberatively researching, reading, and blogging about student ministry and family ministry, dabbling with online technology and experimenting in ministry lifestyle design and productivity in the church. Jeremy and his wife, Mikaela, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he serves as an Orange Specialist with the XP3 Student team.

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