CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT FOR LIFE CHANGE PART 3

Another ingredient of an environment of TRUST..

INTEGRITY

As a group leader you must be pursuing to live the kind of life that will give weight to your words. Or to put it another way, trust will be built when your living matches your speaking. There is a great deal of skepticism in our world towards the Church that is a result in large part to leaders saying one thing and acting another way.

This does not mean that a leader’s life has to be perfect. We will always make mistakes. We will say things or do things from time to time that we will regret. That is where grace is so powerful. But, there must be a consistent life of integrity and even repentance when failure occurs for trust to be built and protected.

Paul says in 1 Thess. 1:5 that their “gospel did not come in word only but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” Paul also said in 1 Thess. 2:10, “You are witnesses and so is God how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved towards you.”

The power of God was seen among them as they lived out their convictions, proving that Jesus was worth following. It will be difficult for us to earn the right to challenge others to live in a Christ like manner if we are not pursuing to do the same. Paul goes on to say in 1 Thess. 2:11-12, “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, Who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” It is our behavior, like that of a trusted and loving father that gives us the place to challenge people towards transformation.

We as leaders can make some of our biggest mistakes right here. We can’t say that we love people then make derogatory jokes about certain groups of people. We can’t tell people to sacrifice for others if we do not do it ourselves. We can’t preach holiness and then live in sin. We lose the trust of those we are trying to disciple when our faith and our lives do not match up. Integrity builds trust.

Challenge: Take some time to ask someone that you trust if they see any inconsistencies in your spiritual life that you may not be aware of. Ask them if they see areas in your life where you need to grow. If they share something with you, don’t be defensive, just listen. Then ask them to pray for you and hold you accountable as you pursue growth.

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CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT FOR LIFE CHANGE PART 2

Life change will happen in a Christ centered environment of TRUST AND INTIMACY. It is the kind of place where you can be “you” without fear of judgment as you walk closely together towards Christ.

Here is another ingredient in an environment of TRUST.

Humility

People will figure out if you are about “you” or “them”. If they determine that you are about yourself (prideful) they will lose trust in you. If they determine that you are genuinely for them and their good (humble) they will trust you more.

My favorite passage that shows this is Matthew 11:28-30 when Jesus says “Come all who are weary…learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart.” I love how Jesus describes His own heart with two unimpressive words, gentle and humble. What I also love is that He uses them in the context of teaching for the soul.

This passages tell me that in order to create an environment of where life change can happen we must model genuine humility in our hearts as leaders.

Humility can be displayed in many ways. It can be the intentional pursuit to make conversation about the other person’s life. It can be choosing NOT to brag about your own spirituality. It can be as simple as cleaning off the table after the meal.

One important ways that humility should be displayed in a small group is LISTENING. It is easy to view leading a small group as primarily being a “Bible Study Leader” or “facilitator.” We do need to teach the Word because it is power, but we also need to create space for listening to the stories, struggles, hurts, and joys of those in our group. Power comes when we are able to ask the questions like “How are you” and “what is on your heart” and then listen to understand the other person and connect their struggles to the hope of God’s Word. When we are truly listening we can have a better sense of how the Word can help transform them.

I know from my own experience that when I have been listened to I feel valued and my trust level for the other person goes up tremendously.

Here are a few tips to help you grow as a listener.

1) Always pray before conversations, asking for the Spirit to help you hear what He wants you to hear.

2) Fight against the impulse to always offer a solution or advice. Sometimes people just need you to listen.

3) Ask more questions to gain clarification. Sometimes we offer our advice without really knowing what the other is really trying to communicate.

4) Repeat back what you think you are hearing. People are typically receptive to me when I say something like, “What I hear you saying is___________________. Is that correct?”

I love the simple and humble prayer of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I pray that we would be humble leaders.