Leading the Bench-Warmers


There are times in group leadership when it feels like we’re having to carry a group member along. We wonder what God is doing in that person’s life. We try to ask questions to lead that person towards discovery. We carve out one-on-one time as a way of communicating that we’re available if needed. When we don’t readily see spiritual movement in someone’s life, it can be tempting to focus most of our energy on group members whose spiritual growth is evident.  Let’s face facts: it’s easier to cheer for someone who’s in the game than for someone who’s content to warm the bench. But maybe God’s more active in the lives of the bench-warmers than we assume.  Philippians 2:12–13 gives us perspective on God’s work in our lives and the lives of those in our small groups. It instructs us to continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

There’s work involved in being a follower of Christ. The verse says that God is working in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. He’s not just working on our behavior. He’s working on our wills. The New Living Translation puts it this way: “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

I tend to credit God with giving me the power to act, but I place the burden of surfacing the desire to act on myself. This verse convicts me to pray that God would surface in me both the desire and the power to do what pleases him in every area of my life. It also motivates me to pray for those in my group in a different way.

Maybe leadership is partnering with God to encourage those who are taking steps to allow him to act in their lives. Maybe leadership involves asking God to give our group members the desire to do what pleases him.