The success of any Bible study or small group program depends heavily on the Bible study leader. If you lead a group – no matter the size or venue – your leadership will influence others. Leaders can’t control everything, but there are some things we can do to increase our effectiveness.
I’ve led groups of every size, both in-person and online. I’ve recruited, trained, and managed other leaders. Over the years, I’ve noticed some common attributes among leaders who make a positive spiritual impact on their group members. Although not an exhaustive list, these characteristics are ones all leaders can work to incorporate into their small group ministry and leadership.
7 Characteristics of Effective Bible Study Leaders
- We are students – Leaders don’t have to know everything about the Bible, but we do need to be constantly learning. Do your best to study the lesson’s passage and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” (For a doable, everyday Bible study method see “4 R Bible Study Method for Everyday Use.“
- We are disciples – Our students need leaders they can follow. Like Paul, I want to be able to say: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). It’s easy to get lazy in our own discipleship, but we can be proactive by enlisting a mentor or accountability partner who will pray for us and ask us the hard questions. Let’s set a godly example for our groups in prayer, spiritual growth, holiness, and commitment to the body of Christ.
- We are transparent – Share honestly from your own life and spiritual journey. A “perfect” leader discourages the group members. A leader who talks about her own struggles with life and faith connects with the women and encourages them to open up too! (See Paul’s example in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.)
- We are passionate – Passion for God’s Word and work is contagious. Don’t be afraid to show some excitement over what God is teaching you and about what He has been doing around you. Your spark will start a fire!
- We are jealous – Paul had the attitude of a mother bear when it came to his spiritual children (2 Corinthians 11:2-6). As leaders and teachers of God’s Word, let’s diligently protect their hearts and minds against false teaching. Don’t’ be afraid to stand firm for the truth.
- We are investors – Each student has individual needs. Good leaders take time to know the students and their needs. Connect with them outside of class. Encourage them with calls, emails, and Facebook messages. Pray for them and let them know you’re praying for them.
- We are reproducers – Effective leaders are always looking for and developing new leaders. Your women’s ministry, small group program, or ministry can have strong leadership now and in the future through purposeful leadership development. See “The 5 M Plan of Leadership Development” for more information.
You are a Spiritual Leader in Your Family
Even if you don’t formally lead a Bible study group of some kind, you are a spiritual leader. Your family looks to you to help and encourage them in their relationship with God. The characteristics listed above apply here too! Watch for my new devotional “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” coming in September! This 52-day devotional weaves faith stories of the past with genealogy research tips and practical ideas for instilling faith in your family.
Which of the characteristics above do you struggle with most? Which characteristic have you seen make a positive difference in a group?
You might also be interested in these articles/books on spiritual leadership:
- 9 Essential Qualities of a Godly Leader
- 6 Characteristics of Spiritual Leaders
- Spiritual Leadership: Moving People On to God’s Agenda by Henry and Richard Blackaby