I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was five years old. The first rule I learned was to always keep your motorcycle between the lines, but one of the most important rules I learned was to always look out ahead of you instead what’s right in front of you. This rule becomes more important as you go into a big curve. As you approach a curve and start to lean into it, you must focus ahead — where you want to end up. If you look down in front of yourself, you’ll find that you will end up sliding over the lines and quite possibly out of the lines and in a ditch. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way. I took a curve a little too fast and lost sight of where I wanted to end up. The next thing I know, I laid my bike down in the curve and slid through the curve and into a ditch. Thank God I didn’t hurt anything save for a few scratches to my pride, ego, and bike.
Having basic guidelines in small groups works the same way. They provide healthy and safe environments for people to share. They keep us on track with an expected end. When the road looks crazy, curvy, and dangerous, we know we will get through it safely.
As much as I’d love to say all small groups never have conflict and it’s all rainbows and butterflies – it’s not. Life is hard and we live in a real world where real life happens. If I had to go through life without guidelines, I most definitely would end up on my side in the ditch of despair. When we are involved in life with other people it can be messy. In a small group you will find as many different opinions as you have mouths. Having guidelines creates a protected environment where others feel heard and loved. We always start our group in prayer and then go over the expectations. One of the guidelines we have in our small groups is “Don’t Fix”. We define it this way, “When someone is sharing something deeply personal and or painful, there can be a tendency to try to make them feel better about themselves or the situation. Often this will cause people to stop sharing and results in their not going as deep as they might have gone. Resist the temptation to rescue people. Try to hear what people are sharing without trying to fix them. If they want your advice, they will ask for it. You may want to take time later to ask if you may offer some advice.”
Having simple guidelines in place not only helps others feel heard and loved, but it also keeps us all on the same mission and helps promote the health and unity of the group. Keeping the guidelines, the same in all small groups helps ensure that no matter which group one attends, either a men’s only, women’s only, or a everyone’s group, the same guidelines are in place. As we navigate the highway of life, keeping ourselves between the lines and always looking ahead of where we would like to be, we will help ensure that our guidelines remain great guardrails that keep us on the mission of “loving God and loving others” well. (Matthew 22:37-40).
by Robert Garcia – Pastor of Restoration
Real Life Ministries Texas