The health of any group rises or falls based on the health of its leader. That’s why it’s critical for group leaders to to assess their own health as Christ-followers and leaders. We previously covered 4 attributes of healthy group leaders as a way to help self-assess. Here are four more attributes of healthy group leaders.
1. Healthy group leaders are shepherds
To really care for the people in your group well, you have to take some kind of ownership over them. You have to look at them like they’re under your charge and take care of them accordingly. The Bible calls this being a shepherd.
Healthy group leaders are shepherds. They know their groups are made up of people who need guiding, steering, encouragement, and leadership. A good shepherd cares for the needs of their flock, whether or not it’s something they feel like doing at the moment.
Many people think only pastors are called to be shepherds in the church, but that’s not true. Yes, pastors are called to shepherd people, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones called to be shepherds.
If we care about people and we find ourselves in a leadership role, it means we’re being called to protect our groups from false teaching, care for their physical and emotional needs, and encourage them to be more and more like the Good Shepherd – Jesus.
But before you think of that as a burden, we should remind ourselves that while at times it can be difficult, it is first and foremost a great privilege from God. Hebrews 13:17 tells us that leaders need to understand that they will give an account for the souls of those they lead. It also tells us that we are to shepherd people with joy. Otherwise, we’re wasting our time and it won’t be worth everyone’s investment.
The people in our groups are ultimately God’s sheep that He’s entrusting to our care. That doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers; it simply means you need to care about them.
It means you need to care about them enough to check in after they’ve had a rough week. To put them in touch with a pastor if they need counseling. To bring them a meal or drop in and see how they’re doing.
Any particular task of a shepherd isn’t grandiose and it’s certainly not flashy. A shepherd’s job is one simple act of care after another. It’s tracking down a wandering sheep, or making sure they get water and shade and rest. These are things any caring person can do.
So the challenge here may be to think about whether you’re really loving your group well.
Ask yourself: Does my heart stir when I think my group members’ spiritual life, or does it ever even cross my mind? Do I get concerned when I think about their lack of growth, or does it not really bother me?
2. Healthy group leaders are servant-minded
The next attribute of a healthy leader goes hand in hand with being a shepherd. It’s that healthy group leaders are servant-minded.
Being servant-minded means that we want to always have the default setting of serving someone else with our time, gifts, and resources. It’s a mindset based off the example of Jesus. Jesus came to serve and to give his life away to those around him. If he’s the example, that’s what we should be doing as well.
In Jesus’ economy, those who want to be greatest must become the servants of all. In our culture of radical individualism, this is a call many of us don’t want to hear. Or at the very least we don’t want to abide by. It just doesn’t seem to make sense in our world where power and fame are what everyone’s after.
We have to remind ourselves that just before Jesus went to the cross he got down on his knees, took a towel and a wash basin, and cleaned the feet of his disciples. Think about that. The God of the Universe stooped down to serve those whom he had every right to demand to serve him. This is the servant-mindedness of Christ.
And it should be what we’re after.
Ask yourself: Would my group members think of me as servant-minded? Would they say that I lead the way in serving others or my family or our group?
3. Healthy group leaders share leadership
Leading a group for a long time can be tiring. Healthy group leaders know that, and they share the leadership accordingly.
One of the most important qualities of a good leader is that they’re always working on replacing themselves. They’re always working on developing other people to the point where they could do what they’re doing.
And that’s the basic call of every disciple of Jesus. To make other disciples who know how to obey everything Jesus commanded us and multiply themselves.
To develop someone means that at some point you’ll have to share responsibility with them and give them feedback on how they did. This is what Jesus did. He let people follow him for a year or so, then he sent them out to do some things on their own, but after that he had them come back and debrief how it went with him. Based on what they said and how it went he provided feedback to steer them in the right direction.
This is why group leaders should always be focused on developing an apprentice or future leader in their groups, because it encourages you to invite someone else into leading and makes you think about developing them.
Leading a group is far more than leading a discussion. There are administrative tasks like sending out emails or prayer requests. There are hospitality elements of getting food and drinks. There are service elements like planning serve days.
Healthy leaders spread the leadership tasks around wherever it makes sense and when someone is ready for it. It decreases the leader’s burden while increasing the group members’ responsibility and commitment.
So maybe there’s someone who can send out your weekly emails, or would love to host. Maybe there’s someone ready to start leading some of the discussions. Whatever those things are, start empowering people in your group to help with as many of those things as you can.
Ask yourself: Am I sharing leadership with anyone in my group? If not, what could I start sharing?
4. Healthy group leaders are always growing
Well that brings us to the final attribute of a healthy group leader – that they’re always growing.
A disciple of Jesus is a continual learner of the way of Jesus. That’s what the word disciple means, “learner.” Which means a disciple is never done learning.
The work of leadership is similar. None of us will ever be perfect leaders, so there is always some aspect of our leadership to work on.
The same can be said of our spiritual lives. Our spiritual lives are never stagnant. We’re either growing or we’re shrinking. We’re either progressing or we’re regressing. We’re either focused on spiritual growth or we’re not.
To get better means we need to know where to improve, which means we need to spend time assessing and reflecting on our leadership and spiritual walk. With everything else going on in our lives it’s easy to take our eyes off the ball in this area, but we have to have a goal or a destination in mind. There’s a saying that if you don’t have a destination, you’ll get there every time.
That’s so true of our walk with Christ. If we don’t have a plan or a destination in mind, we’ll get somewhere, but it won’t be where we wanted to end up.
Ask yourself: Am I focused on my spiritual growth and my growth as a leader? Do I have a plan for growing?