Five Focuses of a Transformational Group Leader Part 2: Open

Five Focuses of a Transformational Group Leader Part 2: Open

This post is part of our Five Focuses of a Transformational Group Leader series

When I first began serving at church, I found that the soundboard was the place to be. While I had absolutely no idea what I was doing in regards to sound systems or any related technology, I loved the idea of hanging out in back while the service took place. It was like I was helping present the worship and helping with the message. Serving in this way created a kind of bond between the leaders on the stage and what I was able to offer. It was very fulfilling, and I learned quite a bit (like, don’t try and work with sound if you are tone deaf…).

But it was also very dangerous.

Having served in ministry for two and half decades across five churches as well as training in hundreds of church contexts, I believe those who serve in technology face a great challenge. It is so easy to hide in this area of serving. That is one of the initial reasons I enjoyed it so much. While everyone else was being preached to, I was making sure there was no feedback, or that the slides were shown in concert with the message. When we serve as part of the presentation, we can more easily shield ourselves from the truth that we also need to hear.  And this is absolutely not limited to those serving in the tech areas of the church.

Every position of leadership in ministry carries with it the opportunity to hide from God. This dilemma is especially true for the group leader.

Think about it; the group leader often chooses what to study. This choice makes it easy to avoid issues that are a real struggle for the leader. The leader leads the discussion and facilitates the questions making it easy to avoid answering questions they struggle with or simply avoiding those questions entirely. The leader is tasked with being the point person for spiritual growth in the lives of others which can lead to ignoring or minimizing the spiritual growth needs leaders have in their own lives.

If group leaders are not careful, their spiritual condition will recede even while those they shepherd grow. So what can be done about it? The second focus of a transformational group leader is to be open.

Transformational Group Leaders Must Be Open

Authenticity is critical for the transformational group leader. More than ever, authenticity is the bedrock of relational capital. Click To Tweet

That means being transparent and real with those you lead. Authenticity is critical for the transformational group leader. More than ever, authenticity is the bedrock of relational capital. The day and age when people did not question the leader are long gone. Additionally, people want to be able to connect with leaders rather than celebrate them on a platform. This connection is a key distinguishing factor between typical group leaders and transformational group leaders. Here are some key ways group leaders can grow and be more open with those they lead:

Share the struggles as well as the successes.

It is easy on an Instagram world to highlight only the good stuff, but people often learn more from the challenges than the successes. How you deal with failure and mistakes will help those you lead walk through those same issues better equipped to apply and live out the Word of God.

Don’t be the hero in every illustration.

Continuing with the thought from our previous point: don’t always be the hero of the story. As a matter of fact, if you follow Jesus, you know that He is the hero in the story, not you. But this is a crucial point as you share with your group: don’t set yourself up as a super spiritual hero that always wins the day. Point to Jesus.

Don’t try to have the answer for everyone’s problem.

Sometimes the answers are easy. Most of the time Scripture is clear, and there is no need for debate. But there are those moments when people are seeking an answer, dealing with a challenge, or struggling with tragedy and we don’t have the answers. Sure, we have Christ who holds all the answers, and we know that we can trust Him. But we often feel compelled to offer our own additional advice, trying to be helpful. When we try to “fix” everyone’s problems we may pull them from seeking Christ first and present a solution that really isn’t what they need. Our job as group leaders is not to solve everyone’s problems but to point them to the only one who can: Jesus.

Talk about ways you deal with struggle, doubt, and challenges yourself.

Being practical with the ways you deal with struggles can provide great insight for those dealing with, or soon to deal with, similar issues. Also, when you share these things, people see that you are not perfect or better than anyone else in the group. This factor is key to being transparent with your group.

Help break down the fake we often bring to church life.

One of my pet peeve’s is when people ask “How are you doing?” on Sunday morning as we pass in the hall. While I know they mean well, the reality is they are not looking for an honest answer; they are simply expecting a “Great! How are you?” back. Unless you truly want to hang out and discuss how someone’s life is really going for an extended period of time, I encourage you to simply say, “Good morning.” While this is a small issue, it does communicate the greater challenge of compartmentalizing our church relationships with our “real life” relationships. Killing this disconnect is one of the goals of biblical community in a group setting. Think about it; if we cannot get real in biblical community, then we are wasting our time. People are pretty simple: If there is no safe place for them to share their real life in the church, then they’re not going to be around for long. And why would we expect them to be?

Transformational group leaders are open with those they lead. Through transparency and being real with our people, we will foster strong biblical community. When we do this, we create an atmosphere that allows people to be honest about their issues and challenges. It is in this environment where we will have greater opportunity to show the love of Christ while pointing to and holding one another accountable to, the truth of Christ.

Transformational group leaders are open with those they lead. Through transparency and being real with our people, we will foster strong biblical community. Click To Tweet
Chris Swain currently serves at Long Hollow Baptist Church as the Executive Director of Replicate Ministries. After fours years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Chris served in full-time ministry for 14 years in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Georgia, leading ministries ranging from Students, to Collegiate, to Spiritual Formation. Most recently, Chris served as the Director of Student Ministry Publishing at Lifeway Christian Resources serving the Church in its mission of making disciples. Chris’s heart is to expand the Gospel through disciple-making in the local church.