How will I find the time?
Can I be “real” with other people?
How much can I say?
What if their opinion changes of me?
For those of us in ministry, the thought of community can be a bit conflicting. While we know that life is more meaningful done in circles than in rows (after all that’s what we tell our preschool small group leaders and parents), we also know that given our place in the local church this doesn’t come without a certain level fear – a fear that people hold us to an expectation or standard we may not live up to.
In Creating a Lead Small Culture, the statement is made that every kid needs someone and somewhere. As a leader and as an adult, that same statement can be applied to my life. We need a people and a place to belong to. We can’t ask kids to take the risk of being known in a small group if we’re unwilling to do the same. Seasons of what my someone and somewhere may change, but it’s important for me to maintain some type of community at all times. Community has made such a difference in my life.
One on One
As a leader, I have several different ways I surround myself with people. For me, one on one interaction with someone who has the liberty to speak truth into my life is so important. I have an accountability partner who gets the no holds barred part of me. She sees the worst of me – those thoughts I’m ashamed for thinking, those struggles that are weighing me down. And she has the freedom to speak to them. Why? Because we have developed a relationship over time, and from that relationship I know that she deeply cares for me and wants me to develop into the best believer and leader I can be.
When I think about my accountability partner, I think about all the different places we meet to talk and discuss life. When I think about this person, I see us sitting across from one another. I see my person nodding their head, fully listening to me. I see them speaking into my life. I see them texting me to check on me. I see myself in tears sitting across from her at her kitchen table as she nourishes me with food and her words. She adds a richness to my life through her advice.
A wise man is full of of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might. Proverbs 24:5
Side to Side
I also have a group of women I gather with regularly. We memorize Scripture, pray, read books and hold each other accountable. Men and women are wired differently. Having other women who are able to identify with how I am feeling as a wife, mother and woman leader adds so much value to my journey as a believer.
Our “somewhere” changes as we have to remain fluid because of our schedules, but, these are woman I can text anytime and anywhere. When I think about these women I see myself glancing at texts that make me double over in laughter. I think about the videos of us saying Scripture from memory that we send to each other through text messages as a way of accountability. I see us with heavily highlighted books in hand gathered around a dining room table discussing the ways God is shaping and molding us. I see us sitting around a table on a front porch after the kids have gone to bed with snacks, drinks and citronella candles and the only sound cutting through the dark night are crickets and laughter.
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
My husband and I have a community group we belong to. It’s important for our marriage to have mutual friends and community. Our community group is a group of people in the same life stage as my family. We meet regularly for Bible Study, prayer and laughter. In ministry, we can take ourselves too serious. Some of the best medicine for a leader’s soul is laughter. So when you find a group of people you have that with, value it! No matter what you may call your group – community group, life group, small group, Sunday School class – you need people in the same life stage as you that you can laugh and learn with.
This kind of friendship in community can get a little sticky. There’s many times my husband and I have to ask for prayer for an unspoken prayer request, or we feel we need to use veiled language when speaking about the request. While it may be healthier for me to just get it all out and say what I need to, it may not be the healthiest for the people in my community group. We never want to risk our group feeling negatively about our church over a temporary hurt we may be experiencing. We don’t want to be dishonest about the hurt, but we want to be careful with the words we choose to explain it. Even in the tension, community is worth it to us.
Where is the somewhere we gather? When I think of my community group, I see us around the table sharing a meal. I see us in a living room huddled snuggly on couches as we discuss our bible study. I see us on the floor gathered around one of our group members fervently praying and shedding tears as we carry one another’s burden. I see us at birthday parties chasing kids. I see us serving side by side through our church.
“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” – C.S. Lewis
Community has changed for me during the different seasons of my life. I’m in a fortunate spot right now where I have all three, but there have been times I have felt the sting of no community. There also have been times where I have an accountability partner but no community group.
Strive to add at least one type of community to your life. We have to be leaders who practice what we preach. We also have to be leaders who are truly known by other people. It’s worth it
What are ways you as a leader strive to live in community?