Small Group Ministry Leadership Lessons My Dad Taught Me

Growing up, I never thought we were poor and yet the truth is, we didn’t have a lot of money. We did have love, friends, family, and a church family – but the happiness of my childhood was never measured in gifts or activities or living in nice houses.

I never once thought about inheriting anything from my parents. But, at several points in my life my father gave me the best that he had – his hard-earned wisdom.

Early on he shared an invaluable lesson: Being a person of your word is as important as being a person of the Word. This was part of a larger conversation on reputation. To summarize his words to me, he said, “About all I have to give you is our family name. Don’t mess it up.”

And what he really meant was simply this: reputations are gained inch by inch, year by year; but they can be lost in a heartbeat.

How does this relate to leading a small group ministry?

The commitments we make to our leaders, and through them to the members of their groups, can make or break our relationship with them.

If someone asks you if you will do something on a certain day, and you say “yes,” they’re counting on you to fulfill your commitment. In fact, they may make commitments based on yours. If you tell them that you’ll visit their group, or you’ll send them something, or that you’ll make sure that something else happens for them and their group, they may tell their group members that something is coming. Now, not only is your reputation at stake, but your group leader has also staked their reputation to yours. If you don’t meet your commitment then your personal reputation, your credibility, and your relationship will take a dive, and so will theirs. It may take a long time to regain that group leader’s trust.


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More important than any of those implications are the instructions in 1 John 2:5, “But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:”

In other words, God’s word tells us to keep our word because we represent Jesus.

Or, Deuteronomy 23:23, “You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.”

Okay, this verse says that any vow we make to others is a commitment to the Lord. So commitments aren’t so casual for Christ followers, are they?

Nevertheless, promises are like babies: they’re easy to make but hard to deliver.

So, here are two critical ministry leadership tips for you.

  1. When you make a commitment, write it down. Then put it on your calendar. Don’t trust your memory. Write it down and schedule it on your calendar. (I violated this tip this month when I failed to write down when this blog post was due. Bam! #HardLesson #MissedDeadline)
  2. Make no commitments unless you are willing to do whatever it takes to keep them. Then do whatever it takes to keep the commitments you make. Your leaders will respect you and value you. The leadership in your church will know they can count on you. And, your reputation in the community will grow.

One extra benefit, by absolutely meeting every commitment you make you’ll be learning when not to commit to something.

Remember, our Father has given you a name, too. “Christ-follower.” It stands for something. You represent our Lord Jesus Christ to your group leaders and their members and your church and your community.

Don’t mess it up.


  • Ron Wilbur

    Ron is formerly the Pastor of Small Group Health at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Ron co-leads our connections team and leads the international team connecting SGN members outside of North America.

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Daniel Thomas

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Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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