8 Centimeters and Surprised by Transition: Birthing a Small Group Leader

In leadership, one thing that remains constant is change.  If you have a penchant for a static, tranquil, placid life that rarely ripples then I am afraid I have bad news for you… you aren’t a leader.  Well, I guess that may actually be a relief for some of you.  But if you are hard-wired for leadership you already know that transition is the essence of leadership.  It is the foundation of why God put leaders among us.  Things are constantly in flux and somebody, those with the gifts and skills, step up to the challenge.

This is never more clearly illustrated than during the birth of a new small group from the existing one you and nine other people love dearly.  You spend time growing, building… ministering in this wonderful community of believers and just doing life together.  Then suddenly a defector breaks rank and wants to start his own group rocking the dynamic of the group.  The “mother” group may be unaware that she is going to have a transitional moment when, from her very body, she produces another leader who will take on a life of his own.  However, it is a healthy byproduct of a thriving small group when it can spin off several other groups as God raises up leaders from within.  But, rather than simply being surprised by an “unplanned pregnancy”, why not be proactive in birthing others into the ministry of small groups?  If this is the philosophy of your small group ministry from the start, it will become part of your DNA and set in motion a powerful opportunity to build strong ministries in the communities around you through replication.  This is done by a specific, intentional process of mentoring and coaching the people who have the potential to lead.  You can lead them into their specific gifting from within your own group by sharing your leadership role beginning with limited responsibility and increasing it gradually.

I have participated in two Lamaze births as a coach to my wife and, though I am no obstetrician, I do know that it is most painful during transition and it is the time she hates you the most for causing her “condition.”  This is stage two of the birthing process and is the time the baby begins the descent down the birth canal. For leaders, it may be at this point when we wish things would just stay the way they are or go back to the way they were.  But it is then, while comfy and cozy in the happy womb of status quo, that we are often called upon to endure the most pain.  Remember that transition is also the time when the mother and her baby are most vulnerable.  Both the existing small group and the brand new leader are at considerable risk through the transition and require attention and care to insure the future health of both.

If we are pro-active in building our small group ministry with purpose, our goal is to minister to others.  Usually that means stepping out into the brand new terrain of letting go.  We know we aren’t called to live a wonderfully comfortable life but to take up our cross and be Christ followers.  Leaders raise leaders and sometimes it hurts.  But it is what Jesus did, so… it is what we do.

Steven Blanton©2011

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