For most of leaders, Replace Yourself is the most tempting of the 8 Leader Essentials to ignore. That's because it feels important and strategic (the church always needs more group leaders), but it never feels urgent.
And depending on how you're wired, it can even feel a little weird. The idea of having an "apprentice" may seem antiquated. Asking a group member to be your apprentice can be awkward—too formal and serious in what is otherwise a comfortable friendship.
So, I want to offer you a new perspective on replacing yourself as a group leader. Yes, apprenticing is an important strategic initiative that provides Groups with new leaders who, in turn, provide space for more people to enter into community. But it's not just a strategy. It's more than that.
Apprenticing is a spiritual growth next step for many group members.
And that's the lens through which you should look at it. Since your "job" as a group leader is to help the members of your group recognize next steps for spiritual growth and encourage them to take those steps, it's vital to understand the connection between growth and leadership.
Think about it. Your primary path of growth in group probably isn't the studies you discuss. It's leading. Helping others grow is what stretches you outside of your comfort zone, and that helps you grow.
So, if you've ever struggled with even identifying an apprentice, ask yourself who in your group is no longer getting the full benefit of group from being a group member. Whose best path for growth is stepping into group leadership?
Then have a one-on-one conversation with that person. And as you begin to help them prepare to lead in the future, it's just like helping them to grow. It's not about taking responsibility for their development. It's about helping them to identify what they need to know and do to prepare, and then offering guidance based on your own experiences as well as opportunities to co-lead your group.