Imparting Christ-Like Leadership
We must teach our potential leaders about the true nature of leadership – the kind of leadership that Jesus exhibited. Whereas some congregations consider church leadership as synonymous with lordship, we know that Biblical leadership is, in fact, servant leadership. We must show our small group members that we do not adhere to the special treatment, entitlement, and commanding authority that some church leaders enjoy utilizing. Instead, we will impart to them that the key characteristic needed to lead others is not the ability to command or wield fear; rather, it is the ability to maintain humility, love, and grace even in a position that seemingly functions in power.
The truth is, there can be a dark side to small group leadership in the sense that the position can sometimes lead the leaders to exercise an unreasonable amount of control over the lives of the small group members – even when this should not be so. In this scenario, the leader will try to manipulate the members into doing only whatever he approves they do.
Do Not Manipulate Your Small Group Members
For instance, we have heard of cases wherein the small group leader refuses to acknowledge the romantic interest of someone in the group because the leader does not approve of this person or because the leader wants someone else for the member. We need to remember that this is not a decision that the small group leader can make for the member. Furthermore, the small group members do not need their leader’s approval when they actually do want to date someone.
Sadly, this is not a unique situation and has been repeatedly seen in congregations around the world. In fact, many Christians left particular churches because they experienced manipulation within their small groups. They also faced disapproval when they refused to concede. Since entrusted sensitive and personal information within the community, they had to grapple with the fear of this information being turned against them and used as a control tool. We need to establish with our potential leaders that as much as they can speak into the lives of their members, there are also boundaries that they cannot cross.
If the small group members ask for counsel, it is then that the leader will speak truthfully and graciously. However, if the advice is unsolicited, the leader must remember that he has the liberty to speak into all areas of his members’ lives. The leader can only have as much access as the members would allow. And when he does give advice, he should not issue directives. The leader has no right to tell them what they can and cannot do – even if they ask.
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