There are many excuses that people give so they don’t step up to fulfill their role of leadership in the church. I have worked with people for many years and have heard lots of reasons. Here are a few good responses:
“I’m not sure I have been called” – Disciplemaking is not a matter of calling but of command. Every believer has been commanded to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). The Great Commission is a command for every believer, not just given to the church (as an organization). Choosing not to make disciples is not an option.
“I’m scared to lead a group” – All the great leaders in the Bible were scared when God called them.
- Moses (Exodus3:11-12)
- Joshua (Joshua1:9)
- Paul (Acts 18:9-10)
The Great Commission comes with a promise (Matthew 28:20), we will not be alone. If we are about the Father’s business of making disciples, Jesus promises that his presence will be evident.
“I don’t think I can lead a group” – Many times Jesus said in essence: “I cannot do anything without the Father.” Jesus recognized in his humanity that if he was going to make disciples or accomplish any ministry objective, he had to be dependent upon the Father. (John 17:7, 5:19, 30, 38, 6:38, 8:28, 10:20-21). This is also true for us. Jesus said in John 15:5 “for apart from Me you can do nothing.” God never intended for us to do it. He wants us to simply be available to work through us.
“I don’t know enough” – You will grow the most when you are placed in a situation where you are responsible to disciple a few other people. Everyone knows more than someone else.
When I taught seminary in Zambia, I did not have an arsenal of lesson plans and class notes under my belt; each class was brand new for me. I had to stay ahead of my students, which made learning and teaching go together.
The responsibility of leading a group has a built in accountability and it keeps you striving toward deeper spiritual growth. It is important to remember that the best leaders are learners and when you stop learning you stop leading, regardless of how much you know.
The key to discipling people in a small group is being “love with skin on it.” It is better to be a shepherd of people than a teacher of the Bible. A discipler who is passionate about fulfilling the Great Commission in a Great Commandment way (loving God and loving people) finds the means to grow the members of his/her group up in Christ.
“I still have small children” – I read a story about a couple who had pulled out of small group leadership and then ultimately out of the group entirely, all done in the name of “Family Values.” The mom said it was an awful mistake for two reasons.
- First, it was a mistake because it isolated her from her primary network of friends that could have made those earlier years of child raising easier. There was no one to take turns with watching the children so she could find some free time.
- The second reason it was a mistake is because parenting never gets easier and discipling is always a matter of priority. The most powerful environment to raise children is an authentic biblical community (2 Timothy 3:15). The value of watching mom and dad point others to Jesus in the context of a small group throughout the growing up years has a positive and powerful impact on the life of a child.
“I don’t want to fail” – If you don’t try, you can be sure you won’t succeed. Our discipleship ministry is designed to help you succeed, but there is still an element of risk. No one has ever attempted great things for God in some low risk adventure. Faith is required and “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
This also raises another unseen element, the spirit world. Satan is trying to undo whatever you spiritually accomplish in people’s lives. This is one of the reasons why we need to envision ourselves as a Desperate Church. In desperation we seek God’s face for his wisdom and power. We desperately need God! We don’t want to be like the self-absorbed and affluent church of Laodicea that thought that they were in “need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). They thought that they didn’t need God.
These statements may not represent your reluctance in becoming a small group leader, but whatever the reason for your reluctance, God can help you overcome it. God loves to show himself strong for those who are totally dependent upon Him.
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)
God is prepared to give you everything that you need to lead a small group if you are only willing to depend upon him and promise to give him the glory.