Think back to one of your favorite weeks with your few. Chances are you remember it because it was one of those special weeks when things were hitting on all cylinders. Your sweet kids walked in with angelic faces and big smiles (complete with a few missing teeth). They bubbled over with stories about school and birthday parties and pet cats (that you’ve probably prayed for more times than you can count). They were mesmerized by the magic of God’s Word coming to life.
Your extra-energetic kid actually sat for the entire small group time.
And to top it off, you answered the all-time stumping question—Do dogs go to heaven?—and you passed the test with flying colors.
You walked away feeling like a superhero.
But every week isn’t like that, is it? The reality is that on some days, the win is that you didn’t lose any kids. And if you did, they were found before pick-up. I can see it on the faces of Small Group Leaders when they walk out of the room on a tough morning. As an SGL, those are the hardest weeks to be you.
On those days, I know you’re wondering if they hear anything you say. I know you’re wondering if this really does make a difference.
I know you feel like all you did was lean in to say, “Please stop.” Or “Turn on your listening ears.” Or “Dante, I’ve asked you twice to not roll up in the rug.” (Bless the little rug rollers!)
But here’s the thing. Faith doesn’t grow overnight, and it doesn’t grow in a straight line. Five years from now, your kids may not remember much of what you said. Truthfully, they probably won’t. But you know what they will remember? They’ll remember that you showed up. They’ll remember that you stayed. Those boys will remember that you created a safe place for them to work out their wiggles and silly antics. Those girls will remember that you stopped to laugh with them when they had giggling fits that wouldn’t quit.
Because you’re creating a safe place for them to know Jesus now, they’re learning that Jesus is a safe place for every fear and question they’ll have as they grow. Because you are invested even on the hard weeks, they are learning that Jesus won’t abandon them when they mess up. Not because of what you say, but sometimes in the absence of those words.
So what do you do to press on to create a safe place when you’re feeling discouraged? Don’t forget what makes it feel safe for them. Are you leading a group of kindergarteners, maybe a group of fifth-grade boys? Do they need time to proudly show off their writing skills? Or a few minutes to tell jokes? Be encouraged that you haven’t failed just because things go a little off script once in awhile. In fact, that may be the best way to create a safe place for your few – even when it doesn’t quite fit our definition of “safe” or “favorite.”
Your least favorite week may be the week when they first see Jesus.
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By Rachel Winters