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.
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.