I talked with one of my best small group leaders today. We talked about a few of the cool things going on in his group, a few of the interesting happenings in his life, and a few of the intriguing opportunities that God has recently been providing for him.
That’s when he dropped the bomb every small group pastor dreads. He informed me that he was sensing the need to step aside from his small group. God was opening some other ministry doors for him and for his wife.
Breathe. Exhale. Inhale. Ouch that one hurts!
This leader is moving on for good reasons—kingdom reasons. Yet that doesn’t make the sting of losing one of your best any easier. Frankly, it’s a weird feeling. On one hand, you’re excited this leader is mature enough to make such a decision and be obedient to the call of God. Yet there is a personally painful side that hurts to invest in someone and see them move on.
In the study guide, Growing Others, author Carl Simmons engages with this transition, “You know it’s a good thing, but it can still be painful to let someone you love and have shared life with move forward without you…when that time comes, hopefully you’ll both recognize it for what it is and take joy in it, despite the sadness that comes along with letting go.”
As a small group pastor, I have to trust what God is doing in this person’s life and in what He will do through him in the lives of others. It simply cannot be a silo-esque ministry mentality! These types of decisions are about leaders’ recognizing and submitting to God’s kingdom purposes—not about my ministry. So I listen. I encourage him. I offer him the best possible counsel. And I pray for his future ministry.
Then, in my own moments, I consider the “plans” and dreams I had for this small group leader—for his continued and potentially increased involvement alongside me. And I’m challenged to submit to the reality of Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”
So God’s work in small groups moves on—without this small group leader’s involvement as I had planned. I’m choosing to trust that God’s plan is much better than mine.
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Join the conversation and share your thoughts, experiences, or insights about losing one of your key small group leaders.