A note/disclaimer/warning: I want to be very open and honest in this post. Members of my small group may eventually see or read this, and I'm okay with that. I just want to be transparent in the way that I live, so I figure that I need to be transparent in the way that I blog about my life and about the struggles and joys of attempting to fulfill a life goal. If you are in any way involved with or connected to Small Groups at MCC or my own Small Group, please read this for what it's worth and don't read between the lines, because there's nothing there. What's being said is how I honestly feel and what I'm thinking, and that's all there is to it.
The short version of the story:
Leading a Small Group has gone slightly better than I expected it to. However, I'm disappointed with myself for a number of reasons (see "the long version" for details). I'd give myself a 6.5/10 as a leader, and my group a 9.5/10 for how epic they are. I hope to do better sooner rather than later.
The long-ish version of the story:
I love my small group. I can't say that enough. However, in my own mind, things haven't been a bed of roses this first semester so far. The small groups at MCC were recently asked to evaluate their leaders, so I received a "progress report" of sorts from the members of my small group...
Mostly, what I read on this summary of my group's evaluations wasn't much of a surprise. I'd like to share it with you, just so you understand where I'm coming from. These guys were asked to rate a number of statements about their small group on a scale from 1 to 3. A rating of 1 would be the equivalent of "suck." A 2 is "average," and a 3 is what I would call "epic," but more likely just "good." Here's how I fared:
Your Small Group leader has made an effort to get to know you both inside and outside of your group setting: 2.9
You (the small group member) have made an effort to get to know your Small Group leader: 2.6
Your Small Group is actively building relationships with each other both inside and outside of your group setting: 2.1
Your Small Group is a place where you can actively develop your relationship with God. It is a place where you are challenged to use your spiritual gifts and encourage one another through studying God's Word, worship, and prayer: 2.6
Your Small Group is a safe place where all members willingly share their thoughts and feelings in a straight forward and transparent manner: 2.6
Your Small Group meetings are full of life and energy. You and other members look forward to meeting and consistently mention how the group meetings are one of the highlights of your week: 2.0
Basically, that's where my small group guys were at about 3-4 weeks ago with our small group. I'd tend to agree with them on every level in their evaluations. They were very fair and honest, and I really appreciate that, even if the evaluation wasn't something they wanted to do.
This is where I need to stroll down a rabbit trail for a moment. Small Groups at MCC are designed... awkwardly. There are rumors about how the groups are picked at the beginning of the year, ranging from the idea that those in charge spend hours in prayer before arranging the groups, to the thought that they pull names out of a hat and hope for the best. I don't know what actually happens, and I don't want to speculate on that here, but suffice it to say that these groups are put together without consultation from its members or its leaders.
In addition, Small Groups at MCC are awkward because they are required for all underclassmen. This makes leading them about a billion times more interesting, because it puts you between a rock and a hard place (isn't that how the saying goes?). We, as Small Group Leaders, volunteer to lead a group of students who are required to be part of a group. So, in an extreme case, the leader loves their small group, because it's a passion, while every member of the group hates it because it's required and just adds "another thing to do" to their week.
Herein lies another problem: it's hard to gauge how people actually feel about their small groups, which makes leading them, once again, difficult. All of this to say that I don't always know what I'm doing as I share life with this group of 8 guys once a week. And not knowing what you're doing as you're held responsible for the spiritual development of eight people is nerve-racking, to say the least (at least in my mind). It's a huge responsibility.
So here I am in the midst of this, not knowing what I'm doing and feeling nervous most (if not all) of the time as I lead. It seems as if I'm walking on eggshells as I lead my group. I'm amazed at how God pieced together my small group, because every guy in it is amazing and has a heart for God, and they're all still coming to Small Group on a weekly basis, which just tickles me to death (wouldn't that be an awful way to die?).
I feel inadequate to lead these men. I feel nervous in such a large group, because I don't thrive in such environments. I don't always know what to say, and the guys don't always participate or contribute when we talk. I want these guys to get to know each other, but it's hard when there's so many of them and they already have so many relationships outside of our small group. Sometimes, I feel like my words fall on deaf ears. Some days, I don't feel as if I am good enough to lead. It's hard. It's a struggle. It hurts.
I love my small group. I'm blessed to be able to share life with every single one of them because they're all going to do something great in this world for Jesus Christ. I just hope and pray that I can help them to be one step closer to being who God desires them to be.
So there you have it. After the first quarter (essentially, anyway) of leading my first small group, these are my feelings and my thoughts. I'd like to hear what you have to say, because I'd appreciate any advice or encouragement you might have for me. Ideas wouldn't hurt either (well, they could, but that's irrelevant). I've done my best to be open here so that you might understand where I'm coming from and where I'm at in this life goal that I am striving for and hope to achieve someday.