I usually try to do some ministry at church, no matter how busy I am. Give and you shall receive is one of my key convictions. Short of money: share money. Short of time and energy and inspiration? Share those. I’ve lead and taught 8 small groups over the decade—and usually at times when time, energy and inspiration were short.
But I hadn’t done any ministry last year, and began to feel uneasy. I blog on faith, and the pursuit of God and the spiritual life. On life lived in the interstices of heaven and earth.
Blogging on the spiritual life, I came to feel, absolutely has to be done in community. With close Christians friends with whom you can thrash our your ideas, see when they are too extreme, too negative, too impractical. Just wrong, theologically or otherwise. Just a little bit stupid!
And even more, it’s wonderful for a Christian blogger to have a real life ministry with real people. To see if and how faith works if your friend’s husband has just lost his job. Left her. If a biopsy shows a malignancy. If one is battling depression, mental illness or death. Or your son has had an overdose. Then, when you see how Scripture has real treasures for real people, and what you blog is not theoretical. It is real.
And so I was pleased when asked to co-lead the group I have been attending for a year. It’s a special group of accomplished, highly-educated, successful, professional women, but far more importantly, they are kind, and their kindness and acceptance has been balm to me after a traumatic church experience in my previous Oxford church. (Yes, church and blogging do not mix well. I have now resolved NEVER to blog anything even slightly negatively or controversial about my new church, St. Andrew’s, Oxford.)
Leading Christian small groups is a funny business. I have lead some single-handedly and found it a strain. But when I co-lead, almost always with friends, that is a strain too, simply because my friends are as opinionated as I am!! Every friendship has shown the strain of our co-leading a small group–and some have not survived it!
And so, I get asked to co-lead with her by the woman I like best in the group. And she is so much like me, equally, or, if possible, more opinionated.
I have heard people say that God will keep you in kindergarten until you have learned the lessons. Then you graduate!
And I so want to make a success of this relationship with my very sweet co-leader, so want to pass this test (though I’ve flunked some of the former ones). Want to graduate.
God obviously sees I have things to learn, and ways to grow in this, and so he keeps giving me opportunities to co-lead small groups though I’ve failed in the past (not in the leading, just in co-leading with humility, mutual submission, charity and grace).
And what are my strategies for succeeding in a task in which I have previously failed, and in which God has oddly chosen to give me a new chance? (Though he knew every single failure of mine over the last decade, which no one else did!)
First of all, surrender it to God. It’s God’s group, not ours. Not mine. Second, keep praying for it, and our leadership constantly. Keep reminding myself we are leading to serve. Thirdly, defer. My relationship with my co-leader is more important than me getting my way. Fourthly, if I defer, do it with a good grace and with a smile. These things are simply not that important.
I read this and smile. My husband who eagerly reads each blog I write as they are published will read it and smile too.
You see, all these things are applicable to co-leading a group with an equally opinionated friend—but they are far more applicable to marriage with an equally opinionated man!!
Surrender the marriage to God. Keep praying. Defer. Defer with a good grace. These things are simply not that important.
Yeah!! Now to remember this!
Oh never mind. Roy will remind me!!