I am not the leader of our small group.

I’m not trying to get out of anything. I’m not passing the buck. It’s just that a group can only have one real leader, and I’m not it.

In my last blog, I wrote about the importance of a small group being “Christ-centered.” What’s even more important is that the leadership of my group must be Christ-centered. I’ve combined these as two separate but related aspects of the first sign of a healthy small group.

I am the “second-chair” leader of the group. The Best Small Group Leader Ever is a perfect model. Jesus only did and spoke what the Father gave him to do and say (see John 5:19; 8:28; 12:49 and other passages). Jesus recognized the Father as the real leader.

I try to look at our small group as a matter of stewardship. God owns the group, but he has entrusted the people to me. They were his in the first pace. Then he gave them to me to care for, encourage, spur on…. Jesus modeled this perfectly too. See John 17:6-12. I believe I’ll one day be held accountable for what I did with those he has put under my care … some day, when the “Chief Shepherd” appears (see 1 Peter 5:2-4).

I’ve been learning that my main job as the second-chair leader is to stay close to Jesus. My leadership actually has little to do with me, my ideas, my abilities, even my gifts. No, it starts with what God is graciously pouring into me and then simply–but powerfully–overflows from my life into others near me.

This is one of my favorite subjects to write about. I’ve discussed it in Leading from the Heart and I’m a Leader … Now What? and it’s a vital element in The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership. So you’d think I’d have this down by now. Wish I did. But I always seem to take back control, forget to rely on God, try to depend on my own minimal strengths rather than God’s unlimited power. So the “how” does not come as easy as the “what” and “why.” I know it starts with my time spent with him. I do well there. But it’s more than that. It’s truly letting Jesus lead the group through me.

I (or someone else in the group) begin every meeting in worshipful prayer, recognizing Christ’s presence with us and that he is our real leader. I ask him to show his power as he leads us. Then I watch for what Jesus does in and through me as I lead from the second chair. This is a good start, but I want to continue getting much better at this. I’m guessing I’m not alone.

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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