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Often, we as small group point people wear ourselves out, not because that is what God wants us to do, but because of our own lack of understanding about God’s way and plan for discipleship and small groups. Exodus 18:13-27 gives us a wonderful example and pattern of how to best set up a small group structure for discipleship and leadership.
1. SEEK God for wisdom
Exodus 18:19 “…You be the one to represent the people before God and bring their cases to him.” (CSB)
Prayer is key! We, as small group point people, and leaders of small groups must be in consistent communication with God for our people. We cannot handle the issues that will come up in ministry! We do not have the wisdom alone to handle the difficulties and challenges, but God does! Proverbs 2:6 tells us that “…the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (CSB). We can have faith that what God says in James 1:5 and 6 is true, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly–and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith without doubting” (CSB). We as small group point people or group leaders have the privilege and responsibility to intercede for the people we minister to.
2. SPEAK (Pour into) to others what God teaches you
Exodus 18:20 “Instruct them about the statutes and laws, and teach them the way to live and what they must do.” (CSB)
This is why it is important to hold quarterly meetings with your leaders. It gives you an opportunity to pour into your leaders the truth that you have been taught. In addition, just spending time with your leaders, be it through planned get-togethers or just sporadic small conversations in passing, it is important to disciple your leaders. Pass down to your leaders out of the overflow of what God is teaching you through your quiet time with God or through the mentoring of your church leadership.
In turn, if you are a small group leader, speak to your members what you learn from your small group minister or pastor. Your small group members have been entrusted to you by God (and your leadership) to help instruct and guide your members into the truth of God’s Word.
3. SELECT the right people
Exodus 18:21 “But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.” (CSB)
In speaking about this passage of Scripture, Steve Gladen in his book Small Groups with Purpose says that “Our church are full of people who are willing and capable to share the workload. We only need to ask and encourage them”.
Whether we are selecting coaches, community leaders or small group leaders it is important to prayerfully be led of God when selecting leaders. Each church has their own criteria when choosing leadership but taking instruction from this verse and other scripture in the New Testament, it is wise to look for certain qualities. The first step after seeking God for wisdom would be to consult with your Pastor staff, to see if they have any advice in the matter. Secondly, look for God-fearing, trustworthy, not greedy or covetous people. Along with these qualifications we should consider someone who is faithful to your church and one of the small groups already. The more capable leaders, the more effectively we can minister to a greater number of people.
4. STEP IN for the more difficult issues
Exodus 18:22 “They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every major case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten the load, and they will bear it with you.”
Every member is a minister! We as leaders are administers to equip the members. If we as leaders try to solve every little issue that comes up, we will become like Moses (before Jethro’s advice) and will quickly wear ourselves out! Also, we keep others from getting the blessing of helping others and using their own spiritual gifts. If we teach our leaders they can handle smaller issues that come along. But also instruct your leaders to come to you with difficult issues that they feel are beyond their abilities and may be a little more difficult to handle. Be a resource and a guide for them, and let you leaders know you are there to support them.
Don’t wear yourself out needlessly, because of refusing to allow others assist you in the work. We are better together, and when we all can use our gifts and talents in unity greater things can happen! Seek God for wisdom, Speak to others what God teaches you, Select the right people and Step in for more difficult issues. If we follow what the story of Jethro and Moses teaches us, we can see our ministry and groups grow effectively.
Related Resource: 5 Emotional Refreshments for You & Your Groups [Podcast]