Growing With Community: 4 Benefits of Small Groups within a Christian Leadership Program

God created us to live in community, yet many of us attempt to do life alone. Together we can accomplish more than we can individually and Jesus modeled this for us during His time here on earth. Jesus’ ministry included a small group of disciples and a larger group of followers to assist Him in completing His mission. However, our culture has taken the opposite approach of Jesus and prioritizes independence and self-sufficiency as pillars of success.  Independent-minded leaders place a limit on their impact in the workforce and at home. As much as our culture tries to convince us otherwise, we cannot grow into our God-given purpose unless we have others helping us. 

The self-awareness that we must live life in community is important, however, we also need to focus on having the right people in our circle. A majority of our success in life depends on the people we have around us. Darren Hardy shared in The Compound Effect, “According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.” This research begs the question, are the people in your life helping you become the leader you are called to be? It’s hard to be motivated in a room where everyone is complacent, and it’s hard to grow spiritually with Jesus if we are only surrounded by worldly influence.

Cultivate Leadership Institute (CLI) exists to develop the purpose and passion for leadership that God has placed in each individual. CLI is intentional in providing a space for like-minded individuals to develop together into the leaders God created them to be. One tool CLI utilizes to achieve this is Equip groups. Equip groups are small groups for individuals to discuss the leadership development material on a more personal level. It allows leaders to dig deeper and offers consistency in their growth as they meet together throughout the year. Through these groups, leaders are equipped for their God-given purpose, which encourages a space for vulnerability, prayer, motivation for change, and connection.

Vulnerability

It is difficult to share information with other people without knowing how they will react. However, vulnerability opens the door to more growth in all areas of life. Brene Brown states in her book Dare to Lead, “Our ability to be daring leaders will never be greater than our capacity for vulnerability.” In CLI Equip groups, individuals can be vulnerable with others about their struggles in leadership, allowing like-minded people to share their thoughts and experiences. Through honest conversation, leaders recognize their similarities or shortcomings and can support one another as they grow into the people God created them to be. Shame tries to convince us to stay in isolation and secrecy because it feels easier, however, the vulnerable leader can combat shame and have a positive impact on their employees.

Prayer

As Christian leaders, we cannot accomplish God’s plans for us without prayer. We need God and a relationship with Him to lead well. When we rely independently on ourselves we find our skills and competency are unable to produce lasting fruit without His involvement. Individual prayer and conversation with God is key, however sometimes God answers our prayers through using other people. Through practicing vulnerability we can share our prayer requests with our Equip groups. Equip groups provide space for God to work through other people and for each individual to feel seen and heard as they share their prayers. When we are in a storm or battling a work issue, it is important to have a community to intercede for us through prayer. 

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Motivation for Change

As we grow into our God-given potential, we need a group of people to give us valuable feedback. It is easy to set goals for ourselves and plan to change, but if we have a group of people checking in on us consistently we have a higher chance to take action and achieve our goals. In CLI Equip groups, individuals have a space to discuss their takeaways from the class and the practical application of the material. As we see others grow into better leaders, it also motivates us to make changes in our own lives. These groups have been pivotal in the growth of many leaders in the program.

Connection

Our society is experiencing an increase in feeling lonely and isolated, therefore Equip groups are intentional in their ability to provide fellowship with others. It is easy to feel disconnected through remote learning with a large class, so a smaller group of people to meet with in between classes creates an opportunity for deeper connection. As leaders, we need to be connected in a community to develop into the best versions of ourselves. Equip members strengthen and encourage each other to grow through this intentional connection.