If you’re reading this you’re in a role (Small Group Leader or Coach) that involves helping others in some way in their spiritual development. At First we like to call this helping other become “Fully Devoted Followers of Christ.” However, we must realize that, as we do this, it’s important to remember that we begin by continually working on ourselves. Think of it like an in-flight emergency on an airplane when the oxygen masks drop down in front of your face. If you’ve ever heard that pre-flight announcement about the potentiality of this happening, you may recall the instruction to make sure you put your oxygen mask on first, before helping children or others around you with theirs. It’s a frightening experience, but there’s a universal truth in that example.
So it is with spiritual development – we need to work on ourselves first, and continue to do so as we seek to help others grow. I read recently that, “There comes a time when a Christian leader realizes that he or she must take responsibility for his or her own spiritual development.” This is so true – only then can others help. For our purposes here, it is this spiritual development that will help empower you in leading a small group, not acting like a “leader” by checking things off you should do or trying to be an “authority figure.”
How do we do this – where do we start? A good place to start is with something called “spiritual disciplines.” Much is written on this subject, but in his book Leading Life-Changing Small Groups, Bill Donahue offers this advice:
- Study – spend time reading God’s Word – the Bible – regularly. This really is the oxygen of spiritual development (read 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
- Worship – His praise should be constantly on our minds and lips (not just on Saturday/Sunday) (read Psalm 95:6-7, Matt. 4:10, Luke 4:8, Romans 12:1-2 )
- Service – be a humble servant, remembering the example Jesus gave us as He washed His disciples feet (read John 13, 2 Corr. 8:4)
- Prayer – find time to talk to God on a regular (daily) basis, without distraction of people or things (read Matt. 6:5-8, Mark 11:24, Philip. 4:6, John 16:23-24)
- Fellowship – care each other mutually as the body of Christ (an important role for small group leaders) (read Matt. 18:20, 1 John 1:7)
- Confession – confess your sins to God, and others around you, especially where forgiveness is needed (where applicable; read 2 Timothy 2:19 , James 5:16, Mark 11:25)
- Submission – humbly seek to server others and seek others that can hold you accountable for your actions and growth in Christ (read Luke 18:14, )
Is this an “all inclusive” list or process for spiritual development (as small group leaders or otherwise)? Is this all there is to “spiritual development?” Absolutely not – but it’s a good place to start for leaders (and everyone else)! Ask yourself, “how often do I do these things?”
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to ask myself or Pastor Brian.