How Perfection Discourages Small Group Leaders

How in the world do you lead a small group perfectly? You have seen great Bible teachers. Maybe your pastor is one of them. How can any non-seminary trained small group leader compete with that? What if I make a mistake? What if I don’t get the interpretation exactly right? What if I can’t talk in ways so that the group gets it? What if? What if? What if?

Moses worried about the “what ifs” as well. Look at Exodus 3:11. He asked, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Then in Exodus 3:13 he asked, “Who will I say sent me?” Here he actually was asking for a basis of authority. In Exodus 4:1 Moses asked what he would do if the people did not believe his story and call. In Exodus 4:10 he reminded God that he was a stutterer and did not think he could speak for God adequately. Moses was worried about doing this task perfectly, on his own power. Moses could not trust that a perfect God was going to be able to use an imperfect man. But, Moses’ success was not based on his ability to perfectly perform but on God’s ability to supernaturally accomplish His divine plan. Human inability and imperfection was not even on God’s radar. He would deliver Israel from Egyptian slavery and He would use imperfect Moses to do it.

In a recent series of blog posts, David Murray responded to Allan Mallinger’s book, Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control. Murray did eight brief blogs about the topic. The eighth blog is 8 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism. If you go to that blog post you can see links to all the others. They are worth the read and I am sure Mallinger’s book is too.

The eighth post, 8 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism made me think a lot about leading small groups. One of the problems that face churches is the lack of leaders in small groups and Sunday Schools. Many hide in fear because they know good and well they cannot lead a Bible study group perfectly. And they are right. I am just a couple of hours out from leading our college Bible study group this afternoon. If you saw my written plan and then watched me, you would realize how much I varied from my “perfect” plan. But, I also know that in my imperfection, those students were with me. They heard my passion as I read a missions letter from a recent grad who had spent the summer in missions in a difficult project. They heard and felt the need to follow Jesus in faithful obedience. They saw their friend’s courage and faithful obedience. And they could imagine that they too can faithfully obey

Don’t hide behind perfectionism when your church asks you to lead a small group or a Sunday School class. Those group members don’t need a perfect leader. In fact, if you could lead it perfectly, you would discourage others from following in your steps to become leaders. God doesn’t need your perfection. He needs your availability. You will make mistakes in spite of your best intentions and hard study. You will not communicate biblical truth without error. Only God can do that. But you have the Word and you have the Holy Spirit. Andy if your heart is willing and sufficiently prepared, He will accomplish more through you than you can imagine. Don’t worry about perfection. Lead with all the excellence you can muster. Be adequate. Get the job done, faithfully. God will use you.

Scripture: Read Exodus chapters 3, 4, and 5. What do you think changed in Moses between the burning bush and his first audience with the Pharaoh of Egypt?

Dig Deeper: Read David Murray’s posts about perfectionism. All the links are above in the post.

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