It seems like every small group has its challenges…..it’s always messy at some level. Was Jesus’ small group challenging? I would say yes. The disciples argued over power, they said he didn’t care, they doubted him, they questioned him ….. messy. The ‘messy’ part of relationships is usually due to the fact that none of us are the same (which is a reason to celebrate!), but how do we deal with the person that seem to always create a negative tension whenever they are present? You know who I mean…the loose cannon, the conversation monopolizer, the “I speak for my spouse’ person, the ‘Yeah, but..’ guy, the constant ‘go against the flow’ gal, or the infamous ‘conversation buster’.
Here are a few steps to deal with the challenging people in your groups:
ENCOURAGE– Sometimes all it takes is to help someone gain awareness and sensitivity to how they may be negatively affecting the group dynamic. Once they have an ‘aha’ moment, ask them for their help. For example, if they are a conversation monopolizer let them know how great a contributor they are and ask them if they recognize that not many others engage in group conversation. Ask them to help you get others involved by talking less and inviting others into the conversation. Here is the key, whatever it is you invite them to help you with, make sure you affirm them when you observe them helping!
DISCUSSION – If the ‘Encouragement’ level is not working, sit down and discuss how you can help someone grow in the area they are struggling with. This form of personalized leadership will convey an authentic sense of caring. When feeling cared for, most people will be willing to deal with the issues at hand with an open mindset.
ADMONISH – This is the ‘warning’ approach. There are instances when a leader needs to step in and get an issue resolved or the group may not survive. Don’t forget that its very probable that the unruly person is not just unruly in small group. They are likely this way at home, at work etc. and the sandpaper effect that they have will never change unless they are challenged. True friends stab each other in the front!
Encourage, Discuss, Admonish. A 3-step approach that will help with your challenging relationships. Lead strong.