This is an article that I wrote to the growth group leaders at our church MorningStar Baptist Church. I hope and pray that it can be helpful to others as well.
My wife and I have four children and one of the hardest things for them to understand is how much influence the older have over their younger siblings. I feel as though everyday I have a discussion with one of them explaining how much their younger siblings will follow their example. Our three year old often amazes me with how much she knows and the physical things that she is capable of doing. As much as I would be honored to have a prodigy I realize that she has learned quickly and is very confident because of the influence of her older two siblings. I must continually remind them of the influence they have and how important it is for them to honor God with that influence.
Lately I have come under conviction as a husband and father feeling the weight of responsibility that I have as I influence my family. The things that I value will be the things that my wife and kids value. If I like ice cream then probably they will end up liking ice cream. Today as I got dressed and put on jeans one of my little girls came out with jeans on and told me she was wearing jeans like I was. If they here me being critical of others then they become critical of others. If my kids see me loving my wife/their mom in a godly way then one day they will be in much better shape to have a strong marriage. On a more serious note if my relationship with God is a show and only matters on Sunday then they will begin to see me as a hypocrite and eventually reject the faith. I wield influence in their lives even when I don’t realize it.
In the Old Testament the nation of Israel was led by kings and in the life of those kings we learn about the power of influence. John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. The kings of Israel are a great example of the influence that leaders carry. Take time to read 2 Chronicles and take notice of the pattern that emerges. When a new king is introduced it records for us how many years that king reigned and then shares what kind of life the king lived. The writer describes how the king followed the Lord. Then as you read about the king’s reign we learn how that affected the nation. If the king sought after the Lord then the nation of Israel sought the Lord, and if the king rebelled against God then the nation rebelled against God. Take Manasseh for example in 2 Chronicles 33:
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abom-inations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.
Then if you read v. 9 we learn how the people responded:
Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.
This is just one example of many throughout 2 Chronicles that reveals the influence that the kings had on the people. Maxwell makes a strong point in saying that leadership is influence.
When is the last time that you took the time to stop and think about your role as a growth group leader? Have you contemplated how valuable you are to the health of your church? Do you understand how the life you live as a disciple affects the influence you have on your group? In a lot of ways you are the king of a small nation and the way that you lead that nation and the way you live your life before them will have great influence on their spiritual health. In turn it will affect the health of the church.
As growth group leaders you hold extremely important positions in the life of your church. Your role isn’t important because you have the ability to make decisions that affect the whole church and it isn’t important because you control a large portion of the budget. Your role is so important because of the influence you have over the lives of the members in your group. The spiritual health of you as growth group leaders is essential to the health of the group. Your energy and the dedication given to connect group members to God and others cannot be underestimated. Your buy-in and support of the vision of the church is important to the whole body becoming aligned to focus on the mission God has called us to.
Your ability to recruit people who are not in groups will determine how successful we are at getting a high participation rate of members in growth groups. The more that individuals are connected to a growth group the less likely we are to lose them out the back door of the church. Leaders, you will influence your group, the question is what kind of influence are you being? Over the next few weeks you will receive a number of articles that address how you will influence your growth group. The goal is that as you come to understand the importance of your role you will then be able to become laser focused with how you lead your group to connect with God and to connect with others.
May you be challenged to take time this week and pray through the kind of influence that you are having on your group. Remember these are God’s children that you are providing oversight with in His group. Are you honoring Him and the work His Son did on the cross as you influence your group. Finally this is not about how capable you are but rather how dependent you are on God and His Spirit, allowing Him to work through you. The best thing you can do for your group is to walk humbly and intimately with Jesus.