I See Them All the Time

I don’t really watch a lot of movies. And the few movies I choose to watch are certainly not horror movies! But there is a famous quote from a horror/suspense film that even I am familiar with. It comes from The Sixth Sense, and it goes like this…

Cole Sear: I’m ready to tell you my secret now.

Malcolm Crowe: Okay.

Cole Sear: I see dead people…

Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams? [Cole shakes his head no]
While you’re awake? [Cole nods]
Dead people like, in graves? In coffins?

Cole Sear: Walking around like regular people.
They don’t see each other.
They only see what they want to see.
They don’t know they’re dead.

Malcolm Crowe: How often do you see them?

Cole Sear: All the time… They’re everywhere…

Yeah… That’s just creepy… It gives me the chills just reading it. And watching the 1 minute 19 second clip on YouTube is more than enough for me to decide this movie isn’t for me (and now I know you want to watch the clip, so you can find it here). But I actually can relate to this disturbing movie scene in big way-and it’s not because of dead people.

I see support leaders… I see them all the time… They’re everywhere… It’s like some kind of psychological, sixth-sense disease that I can’t get rid of. And I’m not talking about actual support leaders either. I am talking about potential support leaders. That is what makes it bizarre! They don’t even know their potential to be a support leader yet. They only see what they want to see… They don’t see that they could be support leaders because no one has ever told them to consider it.

They have never considered that God could develop their talents and increase their influence to be a support leader. They wander around feeling like they never will have what it takes to lead because apparently, they can’t see what I can see.

My Experience with Support Leaders

Currently, I have three support couples in my Life Group, and I am considering adding another person in our group to my support team (I told you it was a disease). But that robust support system took years to develop. When my wife and I were asked to start leading a group, some of the best advice we received was to start with a support leader. Our group only started with nine people attending at various commitment levels. But even though we knew we had the capacity to know and care for these few people, we also knew we should start off with the best foundation possible. So we asked a couple to be our support leader.

We didn’t really know what all we intended or what we expected from them, but we knew we would need help.

A few months later, after a discipleship-stretching church-wide initiative, we were up to 25 people. All of the sudden, it was more responsibility and relationships than we felt our four-person leadership team could handle. So, we asked another couple to help us love and lead our group with us. It has been a year since then-we are now at 34 people in our group, have since added another support couple, and have plans to multiply in the next few months.

But I’ll be honest… we felt a level of risk-taking inviting someone to partner with us in the leadership of our group. Our last name was in the group title, but our influence could very well be determined by people with a different last name. But the needs were real, and it was worth the risk. Sometimes, I wanted to ask a couple or individual to be a support leader, but I didn’t because of wise counsel and personal reflection. Sometimes, I did ask a couple or individual to be a support leader, and their capacity and gifts weren’t everything I hoped they might be (usually because leading discussion was uncomfortable for them or multiplication wasn’t a possibility in the near future). Many times, people needed small steps of opportunity or behind-the-scenes conversations to cultivate a desire and ability to lead well. But in the end, we couldn’t do it alone.

We needed support—and we were the ones who had to find it.

At our church, support leaders are individuals or couples who are actively engaged in their Life Group. Here are some of the ways we describe and expect that:

– They take personal ownership by regularly attending and investing in other group members.

– They are known to be available, faithful, teachable, enthusiastic, and responsive.

– They demonstrate the character qualifications of a deacon (1 Tim 3) and receive instruction well from their leaders.

– They are expected to pursue disciple-making relationships, and ongoing training and classes.

That’s the person we are looking for. But who really fits that description? (I mean… do I even?) It might even seem a bit much to expect from someone who is just functioning as a “support.” But I believe it is completely appropriate because we aspire to leadership and influence that is given to us from our Creator and King. Instead of lowering the bar, we keep it set high to honor our Lord and aspire to His excellence.

Since the bar is set high, that often means we feel that we are lacking in qualified leaders.

My solution to this problem isn’t to wait until someone in your group finally has all of the qualities of a great support leader. Instead, I suggest looking for the person in your group with the most potential and begin investing in them to develop their gifts and influence.

You Want to See Them?

If you don’t have a support leader yet, how can you identify who has the most potential? You certainly must first be earnestly seeking the Lord with your group, purposely inviting people into your life with hospitality, and both speaking and showing gospel love to others. But if you are doing those things, I believe that there is someone in your group or in your life who God might want to develop into a support leader. And if you can’t see them yet, here are 10 questions to help bring enough perspective for you to say, “I see support leaders…” They might not be the answer to every question, but I believe names will begin to surface as you ask these questions.

Full disclosure, I can’t guarantee these people will say yes if you ask them to be your support leader, but hopefully it will build some momentum for you!

1. If someone new was visiting your group, who would you want to make sure they were introduced to?

2. Whenever you need some help, who can you always count on to be there or jump on board?

3. Who is most willing to share with the group or get an open conversation started? (this is not necessarily because they just want to talk, but because God is working in them)

4. Who seems most aware about their spiritual growth, and displays a concern to know God more and more?

5. Who is most selfless with their “group-time” and will take time to talk with others to hear about their lives and needs?

6. Whose opinion matters most to you? (this is usually because you are like-minded)

7. Who do people in the group admire or respect?

8. Who follows and affirms your leadership well?

9. Who would take the time to carefully prepare and lead a discussion for the group?

10. Who is an encouragement to others, bringing optimism and a positive perspective?

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