It’s February, and in my part of the country we have already experienced 89” of snowfall this winter.  In fact as I look out the window right now, there are massive piles of snow everywhere, and according to the local news, more snow on the way this evening.  I don’t tell you this to complain, I just simply wanted you to know that my city’s snow fall would beat your city’s snow fall in a cage match.  

As I look at the world around me, it’s easy to see that February has been tough so far.  My social network is full of people complaining about being cold or tired of shoveling snow. For every cute picture of a snowman, snow fort, or video of kids sledding, there are multiple complaints and even outright threats against Winter.  It seems we are all awaiting spring when life can begin again.

As a small group leader I often find February to be the toughest month of the year, too.  I feel like my students are drowning in apathy about life and faith, and honestly I don’t feel too far behind them.  Almost every February I find myself questioning if I should really continue leading.  I wonder if I’m really making a difference or if I’m just wasting time.  I wonder if my guys wouldn’t be better off with a “better” leader.  I look back at my Youth Pastor who did such a great job of loving and mentoring me, and wonder why it feels like my effort is falling flat.

As a younger leader, I really struggled with these questions, but after years of working with students and talking with other leaders I have realized a few things. First and foremost, although students are not great at articulating it, we are making a difference.  In fact, if you love God and love your group, it’s difficult to not make a difference.  In these dark days of February, when your group doesn’t seem to care, regularly remind yourself that you are making a difference.  If you don’t believe me, quit on your group, and then secretly track their text messages to each other for the next few weeks.  It won’t be pretty.  Actually, on second thought, don’t quit on your group, just take my word for it.

The second thing that we all need to remember is that everybody struggles.  You know that leader with great hair who seems to have kids flock to his small group?  Yeah, he struggles, too.  Believe it or not, there are days he wants to quit.  There are times he wonders if he is making a difference.  There are days his boys treat him badly.  I’m not saying we should enjoy the fact that he suffers, but I do think it’s important that we remember we are not alone.  We all struggle.  We all have times where we feel discouraged about leading our groups.  We all need to be reminded that God is doing beautiful things even when we can’t see them.

If you are questioning whether you are making a difference, welcome to the club.  But now that you are in the club, please remember that you are not alone, God is using you to do beautiful things, and your students need you to lead them with confidence.  

Also remember that there is probably someone just like you who needs you to remind them they are loved and they are making a difference.  Who needs you to encourage them?

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Jon Grunden

Jon is a video gamer wanna-be, lego aficionado, who also happens to love student ministry and deeply believes in the importance of student small groups. He has served as a Jr. HIgh and Sr. High SGL for the last 14 years in West Michigan. In his free time, he thoroughly enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.'

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