As a small group leader you have to get used to hearing bad news.

When you are doing life with people over time… life happens. And, if you’ve done a good job of creating a safe place you will hear people share their hurts, pains, disappointments, and frustrations.

Have you ever thought about how you will respond to those?

Have you ever thought about the fact that your response matters?

Have you ever thought about the fact that it matters so much that the quality of the community can rise or fall on how you respond?

Here are a couple of possible responses to someone sharing their disappointments.

• I’m sorry that happened.
• Oh Well.
• I wish I could help.
• Life stinks sometimes.
• You’re going to be OK.
• What can you do?
• That’s just the way life is.
• Silence… because you don’t know what to say (which is, unfortunately, what I do most times)

The crazy thing about all of these responses, though they seem like they are different, is that they are all true in some ways. And in some way or another, each of these may be a better response than the others based on the situation. All except one- the last one.

Nothing is the worst thing you can say.

Strangley enough, my Uncle figured out a solution! My uncle had one standard response that covered them all.

He simply looked at you, with loving and happy eyes, shrug his shoulders, put his hands in the air, and say…

Ofie Gonifie. (which sounded like Oofkie Kanoofkie to me.)

Let me give you a rough translation of Ofie Gonifie.

Ofie Ganifie – I really don’t know what to say except, I’m sorry. I hate that that happened to you but, what are you going to do? Life can be tough but we’re not going to let that get us down, are we? I love you no matter what. I know you love me. So let’s get up, dust ourselves off, smile, and move on.

My point is not to teach small group leaders a new word. In fact, my guess is that if you used it your kids would think you were crazy.

My point is this:

My Uncle never told me what that word meant.

He never sat me down and defined it for me.

He showed me with his life, over time.

His eyes, his reactions, his smile, his acceptance, his modeling when things didn’t go well for him, and the way he made a big deal of getting to see me.

The way he would shrug, in his own pain, and simply say “Ofie Gonifie.”

So, how are you responding to your own disappointments?

How are you responding to the disappointments of your few?

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Tom Shefchunas

Tom is the North Point Ministries Multi-Campus Director of Transit (Middle School). Tom’s passion involves working with campus directors and their teams, as well as recruiting and developing the hundreds of volunteer small group leaders it takes to pull off Transit at the five churches of North Point Ministries. He is the co-founder of Uthmin.net, a place for middle school ministers to gather. Tom also co-wrote Lead Small with Reggie Joiner, a resource for children and student small group leaders. Tom and his wife Julie live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey and Cooper.

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