I definitely know what it’s like to feel discouraged as a small group leader.
Last year, there were several months when I’d walk away from my small group feeling like I wasn’t making a difference. I felt powerless and as if I were fighting a battle that I didn’t know how to win.
It started with good intentions. I wanted so badly to see my girls be passionate about Jesus. But when it seemed like they just weren’t “getting it” or they didn’t care about God as much as I wanted them to, I got discouraged. I wondered if I was to blame. I was afraid I was failing as their small group leader. I wondered if what I was doing was actually meaningful or worthwhile.
It was a frustrating and trying time, but I learned through it. Here are a few things that helped me:
1) Remember it’s a journey.
Part of my discouragement was that I was so focused on what I wanted for my students that I missed what God was already doing in their lives. I had a vision of what I wanted for them, but when their journeys with God didn’t match what I envisioned, I got frustrated.
Eventually, I realized I was the cause of a lot of my own frustration. So instead of trying to tell my students where I thought they should be on their journeys of faith, I began learning to do a better job of listening. And as God showed me how to listen, I began to see Him moving in my students’ lives in ways I never did before! It was so encouraging!
2) Get some help.
Fortunately, while I was struggling, I had an amazing co-leader by my side. It was humbling to realize just how much I needed to trust and rely on her. But as I confided in her, she gave me encouragement and a new perspective that helped me get back on my feet.
If you’re feeling discouraged, confide in someone you trust—a co-leader, another volunteer, or the leaders of your ministry. Find someone who’ll let you vent, who’ll encourage you, and who can occasionally put you in your place too. You’re not in this alone. God gave us each other for a reason—to encourage and spur each other on.
3) Trust God.
Probably the most significant thing I learned through discouragement was to trust my Father. To come to Him as a child would: humble, undeserving, and in need. Being a small group leader doesn’t mean we need to have everything together. We just need to know Who to run to when we don’t.
I don’t know what you’re experiencing right now with your small group, but if you’re frustrated, if you’re not seeing the results you hoped for, or if you feel like you’re just making mistake after mistake, trust your Father—no matter what. He’s in control. He’ll be faithful in the lives of your students, and He’ll be faithful to you, too.