It was 9:45 on a bright sunny Sunday morning when I was woken by the low hum of my phone informing me I had a text. It was from one of my 11th grade small group girls:

Did you know Abby was getting baptized today?! 

I froze in panic. No way. That wasn’t today… was it? I frantically opened the calendar on my phone and there it was with a dozen exclamation points emphasizing its importance: ABBY’S BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!! Just as the realization was sinking in that I was hands-down the worst small group leader in the entire world, my phone vibrated again.

I saw her video in service and was like, omg, that’s Abby! I wish I had known… I feel awful… did you know?? 

Yes. Yes, I knew. I had talked to Abby about her decision. I had planned out a whole big celebration (in my head). There were going to be handmade posters, air horns, ten screaming eleventh grade girls, maybe even a celebratory small group lunch after church. But now it was 9:45 and I had missed it. And not only had I failed to show up, I had failed to inform the rest of the group of Abby’s big day. There were no posters. No air horns. Not even one screaming eleventh grader in the audience.

I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide there the rest of my life. I wanted to do the right thing and hand in my resignation as a small group leader that very instant. These girls would surely be better off with anyone else. Anyone other than The Worst Small Group Leader in the Entire World. That’s what they would call me when I walked into church. I could almost hear the whispering, “Look, there’s The Worst Small Group Leader in the Entire World! I heard she missed her small group girl’s baptism.”

No, something had to be done. I had to redeem myself. I had to be able to show my face in church again. I created a group text with the rest of my small group telling them we were throwing an impromptu baptism celebration dinner that night and texted Abby telling her how proud I was of her and that I wanted to take her out to celebrate. I got dressed and headed out to the closest bookstore in search of the perfect baptism gift. (I couldn’t decide between a cool new Bible and the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers so I got both… let’s not forget; I did completely miss her baptism).

So why am I confessing this heinous crime to the wide world of SGLs? Why am I not still hiding in my hole? Because I learned a valuable lesson that evening at dinner: I am, in fact, not The Worst Small Group Leader in the Entire World. As I sat at the large booth and listened to my small group girls congratulate Abby and to Abby share her renewed passion with the group, I thought to myself: sure, I messed up BIG but I’m actually The Best Small Group Leader in the Entire World for this group of girls. 

Believe me, I wasn’t tooting my own horn. It just hit me that that kind of authentic community would never have been possible without a leader they had known 2.5 years already. What they needed most wasn’t an air horn at their baptism. They needed a consistent leader to walk through the highs and lows with—someone they were comfortable enough to share their mistakes with. Someone who was comfortable enough to admit when she messed up (BIG) and show how life goes on.

So when you mess up BIG, remember, you are The Best Small Group Leader in the Entire World for your group. Your mistakes, just like theirs, are redeemable. …and maybe set a calendar alarm for things like baptisms.

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Lauren Terrell

Lauren has a degree in elementary education, led the same high school small group for the past 4 years, and will soon be learning the ins and outs of the preschool world as she and her husband clamber through parenthood with their new baby girl.

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