I realize that I have most likely given a different list of this nature at some time. My problem… I continue to see and get to know effective small group leaders and the traits they exhibit need to be added to the list. So, here are three more traits of an effective small group leader.
1. Is not overly sensitive.
All leaders must realize that hurting people hurt people. And no one is closer to those who have been traumatized by past experience and their own story than a small group leader. When someone verbally attacks a small group leader, that leader must be wise enough to understand that on the other side of the anger is a group member who will soon be set free. If the group leader is overly sensitive that group leader will defend his or her self and miss the opportunity to nurture the overly aggressive and disparaged group member.
2. Views the leadership role as equal with all other roles.
The group leader that exhibits humility is the group leader that gains influence in the lives of group members. Too many small group leaders view the layout of a small group from the world’s perspective. The world will draw a flow chart and will always place the person with the most clout at the top of the flow chart. That is, the leader. Everyone else falls below them and are not equal with them. Not so in Christianity. The leadership gift is equal to all others. In fact, the leader who gains influence first serves those they lead.
3. Sees the potential in every group member.
Great small group leaders acknowledge that one of their primary responsibilities is to help group members become more than they are at present. This is done as group leaders work in tandem with the Holy Spirit to nurture, raise the bar for, and train small group members. For this to happen the leader must first see the potential in every group member. This vision allows the group leader to realize their efforts will not be wasted and that they will soon see the fruits of their labor.
Rick Howerton is the discipleship and small group specialist at LifeWay. He is founding pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Hill, Tenn., and author of Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Group, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual and A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic. You can follow Rick on Twitter @rickhowerton.