Every important leadership activity involves communication. There are a number of factors that can block effective interaction that are true whether you’re dealing with one person or an entire crowd. Here are two communication problems that leaders have with focusing particularly as they relate to small-group leaders:
Problem #1: Impatience can prevent us from focusing. Because the brain works faster than the tongue, it can easily obstruct communication. Our mind can generate ideas five times faster than the tongue can verbalize them.
As a result, we sometimes tune people out. If you were dealing with children, they might grab your chain and say, “Listen to me!” But small-group members may likewise catch us mentally drifting, but respond by not communicating openly with you or the group you’re leading.
When listening to someone else, if your mind is constantly asking, “When are we going to get to the point?” or “When can we sock it to them?” Then you probably need to rely more on the Holy Spirit to give you the fruit of patience. Learn to wait on the Holy Spirit as He speaks to and through others.
Problem #2: Jumping in too fast can also prevent us from focusing. Avoid, for instance, using the word “because” in an accusatory, judgmental fashion. “You’re saying that because you don’t like women!” It is important not to reach a conclusion without first hearing the whole story. In one group I led, a lady began crying. Everyone, including me, began analyzing the reason for her tears and telling her why she was upset. Regrettably, we were all wrong. We would have been much more helpful had we gently asked her what she was hurt about, and then helped her phrase her feelings.
By improving your communication skills in these areas, you will improve the quality of the group you’re leading.
Garry Sweeten, Ed.D. is the founder and president of Equipping Ministries International. Excerpted form “Overcoming Seven Communication Barriers.” Issue 12 of Shared Ministry Audio Magazine.