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Knots.

10 Encouragements for the Discouraged Leader

Thursday, March 06, 2014

I’ve talked with several small group leaders recently and realized it’s that time of year that we could all use some encouragement. Some of us are tired of pressing on week after week. Some of us are feeling inadequate as leaders. Some of us are struggling to see any point. Some of us are wondering if the people we haven’t seen in 4 weeks are ever coming back to our group. Some of us are wondering if they left because of us.

If you aren’t feeling any of those things right now, you probably have in the not too distant past or will in the not too distant future. Below is a list of 10 things (because lists always have 10, right?) to encourage you … 10 things I suspect you already know but are good to remember when we’re discouraged. Chime in with your own encouragements to share with others!

1. You’re not alone. You’re not the only leader who feels inadequate, wonders if she’s wasting her time, feels sluggish in the middle of a semester, or thinks he’s talking to no one. In fact, your pastors feel this way sometimes, too!

2. You’re right … you are inadequate. But He is adequate, and his pattern is to use inadequate people to do great things.

3. God is big enough and committed enough to his people to work through your “failures” and “successes,” your best moments as a small group leader and your worst.

4. God’s power is made perfect in your weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes seeing your weakness will help someone in your group see God’s power.

5. Some of your best small group meetings will be when the smallest numbers are present. Remember, you’re not trying to build a following but rather to nurture relationships in a SMALL group.

6. You’re not crazy. Yes, the people in your group are broken and sometimes unreliable (so is their leader!).

7. God’s Word is living and active and will not return to him void (Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 55:11). This means every time you open his Word He’s doing something remarkable, even when you don’t feel like you “led a good study.”

8. Small groups are about RELATIONSHIPS … over the long haul. Any long haul includes doldrums of plodding hikes as much as mountain peaks and valleys, so remember even in the mundane of life, relationships are growing.

9. It’s OK to take a week off (even for no “good reason”). The fact that you sense your group and its leader are exhausted is a “good reason.”

10. You’re not alone. God is at work. He hasn’t given up on you. He’s present when your group gathers (even if only 2 or 3 have gathered … Matthew 18:20). Easter is coming … Jesus wins … and those united to him do, too!

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Recommended Reading

You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.

  • You Can Change
    You Can Change
    Tim Chester

    How do we mortify sin? How do we address the sin in our lives that reignite like a trick birthday candle we thought we had already blown out of our lives? This is a careful and thoroughly theological book that is hopeful without avoiding honesty. It is practical without being legalistic. It gets to the root of the sinful areas of our lives without offering a prescriptive regimen to hide behind avoiding the grace that has the only true power to teach “us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

  • Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp

    Small groups would be easy if weren’t for the people in the group! This book will help equip you to see your own sin first and provide the courage and humility to address it in others.

  • The Heart of a Servant Leader

    This is a collection of letters written by Jack Miller to people experiencing real-life concerns and struggles. Through these gracious and honest letters you will learn how to humbly offer to others (and yourself!) hope, repentance, and courage that flows from the truth of the gospel of grace.  Though this isn’t a “how to” book full of nifty steps to Your Best Gospel Life Now. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a person who has found food at the Cross, and you watch (and learn) as he humbly points others to the feast.

  • Comforts From The Cross
    Comforts From The Cross
    Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

    This 31 day devotional will bring you to the foot of the cross to remember and celebrate the truth of the gospel of grace, and develop skills that will help “inform, free, gladden, and enliven your soul every day.” Becoming proficient in applying the Gospel of grace to our own hearts is a key skill that is well worth our effort to develop.

Recommended Listening

  • Christ PCA - Nashville
    Scott Sauls and CPC Staff

    Listen to sermons from Senior Pastor Scott Sauls and other CPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Lookout Mountain PCA
    Joe Novenson and LMPC Staff

    Check out sermons by Senior Pastor Joe Novenson and other LMPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Steve Brown Etc.
    Steve Brown

    Steve Brown’s unique blend of orthodoxy and controversy, humor and profundity, and a refusal to play religious games will give you permission you have needed to stop being so uptight. And even if it’s for 30 minutes, you just might experience radical freedom, infectious joy and maybe even a bit of surprising faithfulness.

Recommended Links

  • Tim Chester: reformed spirituality and missional church
    Tim Chester

    Tim has an incredible way of applying the Gospel of grace that is both practical and honest with a consistent skillful affinity to point us to Jesus. He is director of The Porterbrook Institute; a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK; and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.

  • Of First Importance
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    Here you will find a growing collection of gospel-centered quotes to help reorient your thoughts toward the splendor and grandeur of the person and work of Jesus.