I have spent a lot of time lately considering the attributes of a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is a learner. He or she is devoted to experiencing the Master, to spending time with Him. The disciple listens, learns, and attempts to live like Him. Out of his or her natural excitement of experiencing the Master, the disciple shares about the experience with others, shares about the Master. I am always concerned about the disciple who keeps Jesus to himself. I am not sure he or she has really spent time with Him.
In a similar way, small group leaders should begin by being disciples themselves. They need to invest time with the Master. They need to listen to His Word. They need to survey the landscape of discipleship first before attempting to lead others to do the same. In so many ways, teachers are a lot like sightseeing guides.
An ideal guide is one who has been to a place where we are going on a journey. He or she is able to point out significant points of interest and help us to have a richer experience than we might have had by ourselves. In fact, the ideal guide is one who is able to get as much out of the way as possible in order to allow us to experience fully the points of interest rather than him or her. In the case of a small group leader, he or she guides learners to examine the truths of God’s Word so that the group can experience God themselves rather than the teacher-guide.
A true guide works to understand fully the landscape prior to guiding people through it. But a good guide is also a perpetual learner who admits he/she does not know everything. Rather the guide seeks to listen, respond, and learn new things to share with future pilgrim-learners. Even in familiar landscape, the guide does not get bored or complacent because of his/her appreciation of the setting and its history. In the case of the teacher-guide, his/her appreciation of the Bible is magnified because of personal, growing knowledge of the Author-Creator.
A guide has another significant perspective as a leadership skill which can be learned: this role/skill reminds us that we are to lead the sheep somewhere. The point of our teaching is not a perpetual journey, like wandering in the wilderness. Rather, our goal is to lead the sheep to God, not just on a journey. So, when you teach, what are you trying to accomplish? Let me ask a very personal question. When you have finished teaching, are the sheep more in love with God or the teacher-guide? It is not about you and me; it’s all about Him! Think about where you are leading every time you teach. Let me know how these thoughts impact your next lesson!
Spend time with the Master before leading a sightseeing tour through His Word! Be revolutionary!