Group health is directly related to leader health. The health of a groups ministry rises or falls based on the health of the leadership. That includes staff and pastoral leaders, but even more important is the health of the group leaders.
However, many group leaders don’t have a good sense of whether or not they’re healthy, and that’s largely the fault of pastors and leaders to equip them. How do you know if a group leader is healthy or not? If you’re a group leader, how do you know if you’re hitting the mark?
Here are 4 attributes of healthy group leaders.
1. Healthy group leaders have been transformed
The first and most important attribute of a healthy group leader is that they have been transformed. It’s really hard to lead someone where you haven’t been yourself. If we’re going to lead other people to transformation then we need to be people that have been transformed.
We need to be people that are marked by transformation. Being marked by transformation simply means that your life looks a lot different now than before you knew Jesus.
The Bible tells us that when we come to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then He puts the Holy Spirit inside of us. Don’t gloss over that detail. If you are a Christ-follower then you have the Spirit of the Living God inside of you. You have the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Rom. 8:11).
The book of Ezekiel looks forward to the time where God was going to put His Spirit in His people. It talks about the transformation being like heart surgery where God removes a heart of stone from our body and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Ask yourself: Does that sound like me? Am I living with the knowledge and power that the Spirit of the Living God is inside of me, or do I need to focus on being transformed into the image of Jesus these next few months? Does my life look markedly different now than before I knew Jesus?
People that are transformed have lives that look different than the lives of those around them, which leads us to our next attribute.
2. Healthy group leaders are actively following Jesus
Imagine you asked your teenager to go and clean their room. Let’s say they come back in half an hour and you say, “Well, did you clean it?”
They say, “Um, no. But I memorized exactly how you said to clean it. Then, I read it in a few different translations. I even went to a midweek study just to make sure I understand exactly how you wanted me to clean it.”
Did they listen to you?
Far too often we treat following Jesus like a teenager cleaning their room. Many of us have been transformed by Jesus in the past, but we’re not being transformed by him in the present. It’s easy to make empty promises to Jesus, or to read the Bible as if it’s just another book of helpful tips instead of commands to be obeyed.
If we’re not actively following Jesus today, then not only are we not being obedient to what He’s told us to do, but our lives will undercut all our invitations to church and our best intentions to share our faith with our friends and neighbors. And if our lives give no evidence that our faith actually changes anything then why would anyone want what we have?
This becomes even more stark when thinking about leading other people to follow Jesus. You can’t lead a group of people into following Jesus if you aren’t following Him yourself.
Healthy group leaders are characterized by regular obedience to the commands of Jesus. Their lives give evidence of the faith they claim. Their invitations to church don’t ring hollow because their lives resemble something different. Their encouragement to follow Jesus more closely doesn’t come through like an empty product endorsement because it’s rooted in a life that’s marked by love, peace, gentleness, self-control, and on and on.
Ask yourself: Am I actively following Jesus?
If we’re really following Jesus, one of the things we’ll be doing is cultivating community centered around him, which is our next attribute.
3. Healthy group leaders cultivate Christ-centered community
Healthy group leaders cultivate Christ-centered community. It’s just who they are. It flows out of their love for Jesus and His church.
That doesn’t mean it always comes naturally or it’s easy. But it’s something healthy group leaders are committed to, and something they’re always working towards.
Jesus first calls us to Himself, then He calls into relationship with others He’s called to Himself.
Healthy group leaders get that. They also get that we are a church that has been given one Great Commission and two Great Commandments. That we are to go across the street and around the world making disciples that follow Jesus (Great Commission), and we are to be a community of people that loves God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loves our neighbors as ourselves (Great Commandments).
Jesus is at the center of all of that activity, so healthy group leaders put him at the center of their groups.
Practically, this means your time as a group is focused on and centered around Jesus. It means your gatherings are filled with the life-giving joy of being one of His sons or daughters. It means you do studies and have discussions based around the truths found in the Bible.
Healthy group leaders know that it’s only those groups which have Jesus at the center will lead people to follow Him more closely.
Ask yourself: So what’s the center of my group? Is it me? Is it our social time? Is it having to get through a certain amount of material? Or is it Jesus Himself?
4. Healthy group leaders are friends with spiritual explorers
The next marker of a healthy group leader has to do with their relationships outside the church, specifically with those who are explorers or non-Christians.
Healthy group leaders are first and foremost followers of Christ. If you are following Christ’s commands then you will be someone that builds relationships with those far from God in order to tell them about Him.
Jesus gave us the Great Commission to go and make disciples, and he gave us the Holy Spirit to help us do it. That means every Christian is both commanded and empowered to share their faith in Jesus. It can be difficult and awkward, but it’s just something we have to find a way to do.
As a group leader, this is something you have the chance to model to the rest of your group who may struggle in this area. Whether you like it or not, your group members look to you as an example of what to do and not to do.
Ask yourself: When my group members look at my life, do they see someone whose faith is pervasive throughout their life, or is it something I keep to myself?