Any level of leadership has certain requirements. What does it take to do this job effectively? When we consider the strategic role of group leader, there is a foundational question that should guide our thinking. What does it take to be successful as a group leader? There are three underlying principles that help in interpreting this question.
A successful group leader, must have ownership of their role. Accepting the role is an important beginning, but embracing must occur to make this step complete. A person may accept a position, but not experience the embracing of that role for quite some time. Written requirements will never replace that aha moment of truly understanding the reality of the role accepted.
It’s getting beyond the “rental car mentality.” I travel a good bit, and the running joke is “don’t worry about it, it’s a rental.” Do you change the oil on a rental, do you rotate the tires, do you give it a wax job? No, because you don’t own it. It belongs to someone else. Some people only experience church as a rental. They don’t own it. They just drive it on Sundays. Leaders must own their leadership in God’s church by accepting and embracing their calling to serve.
A successful group leader must know their group’s mission. What is the goal of my group? How can I as a leader know that I’m going in the right direction? Leaders must set the course.
In the movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” the high school principal tells Mr. Holland that part of a teacher’s job is to be a compass for the students. Helping them to find a direction. Then, she pointedly states, “Mr. Holland, as teacher, you’re compass is stuck.” This was a turning point for him.
When you are guided by a compass, the slightest discrepancy of just one degree, can make a radical difference. And, the longer you stay off course, the end result can change your destination by countless miles. As a group leader, we must understand the mission of our group as it fits into the overall mission of the church.
To be successful, it’s more about being than doing. In 3 Roles, the terms “servant mindset” and “godly character” are dealt with individually. However, there is a real sense in which the two are inseparable. It is hard to think of having a servant mindset and not having godly character, and vice versa. The passage in I Peter 5: 2-4 gives such wise guidance at this point. Some of the phrases are “Be servants of God’s flock that is under your care … not because you must, but because you are willing … eager to serve … being examples to the flock.” Every time I read this passage I am reminded of Sunday School/Group leaders who I have served alongside. The application is natural. And, the end result is not only a successful leader, but a successful group.
Phil Miller is the director of the Bible study/Discipleship team for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.