Home Small Group Leaders Small Group Leaders How To's Handling Seasons of Discouragement in Small Group Leadership

Handling Seasons of Discouragement in Small Group Leadership

Over the years, I’ve discovered ten things leaders might consider when they begin to lose confidence in themselves.

1. Realize where the attack is coming from and fight back.

The enemy knows that a discouraged leader is an ineffective leader. He is passionate about keeping you from believing that God can do something significant through you. Why? Because every wise small group leader leads people closer to Christ. Engage in battle with Satan. Go to God’s Word, pray, and ask others to pray for you. Demand that the enemy get behind you. He has no power over you if you fight back “in Jesus’ name.”

2. Remember what God has done through you in the past.

What you have accomplished in the past is a constant reminder of what God wants to do, needs to do, and will do through you in the future. Create files for notes of thanks, cards, and letters from people whose lives have been positively affected because of your leadership. Pull these out, and read them when your confidence begins to go south.

3. Embrace the fact that you are not alone.

Jesus is with you and is your model of leadership. Don’t try to be a better you to your group members, strive to be more like Jesus for them. If you’re being Jesus to your group members, you are most likely much more effective than you realize. Remember this…He too went through times of discouragement. Was his ministry effective? Of course.

4. Remember that small groups do best when everyone does his or her part.

Find out the spiritual gifts of the people in your group. Allow them to do what they were made to do, and you do what you do best. You will seldom doubt your effectiveness if you’re effective at what you’re doing.

5. Get together with other leaders.

Ask them if they’ve had these feelings. I’m sure you’ll find that they have. In order to remain encouraged and growing, get together often to encourage one another, speak words of wisdom to each other, and to learn from one another.

6. Set aside a group meeting for evaluation of group life.

Ask your group members to voice what you’re doing well and what you can do better. You’ll most likely find out that you are a much better leader than you believe you are. If you find out the opposite, don’t bail out. Read, attend conferences, go to www.smallgroupexchange.com, www.smallgroups.com, or www.serendipityblog.com for leadership helps.

7. Meet with the individual spearheading the small group ministry at your church.

If you’re not doing a good job, he or she has most likely had complaints and should be able to give you some pointers that will help you be a better leader. If you are doing good work, he or she should encourage you and build you up.

8. Remember the moment you accepted the call to lead.

If God called you, He has equipped you. You’ll have a learning curve, but if God directed you to lead a small group, you are or will become an effective leader. God places people in the right role to accomplish His work. He realizes there is much to be learned, and it takes time, wins, and losses to learn how to be a great leader.

9. Don’t allow difficult situations to create feelings of insecurity.

All leaders find themselves dealing with issues and situations that they cannot control or that they haven’t dealt with in the past. We may botch the moment. But that doesn’t mean we are poor leaders, it simply means we are to learn from the experience so we’ll be better prepared for the same situation in the future. Consider difficult leadership moments as learning tools that God has handed you.

10. Allow Christ to be in control of your thoughts.

When a leader begins to lack confidence in his leadership, it’s easy to run through a mental list of poor calls made in the past, moments during group meetings when he was less sensitive, or group members who exited the group to join another group. The enemy will use these thoughts to discourage and devastate you. When these negative thoughts come to mind, pray and replace them with God’s Word.

Before long, you’ll create a pattern of doing what Paul, another discouraged leader commanded of us: “…brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philip. 4:8). When you learn to do what Paul is expecting in this verse, you will seldom need to do numbers one through nine above.

by SmallGroupTrader.com and Rick Howerton
Rick Howerton is a highly sought after small group trainer leading over 40 conferences nationwide per year. He has authored or co-authored three small group studies including Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, and Redeeming the Tears: A Journey Through Grief and Loss. Rick is also the author of Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual.
This article was used with permission from SmallGroupTrader.com, the place for everything related to small group ministry. Watch free training videos from small group leaders across the country and learn about the 12 Best Video Bible Studies at SmallGroupTrader.com.
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Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.