The night my lesson got erased & taught me something new

This post came out of a draft I wrote several weeks ago. We have the best laid plans as leaders…but what happens when things don’t go the way we thought they would? Keep reading.

I escorted a shiny new volunteer leader to my small group room tonight to sit in on my lesson hoping that she would commit to co-leading with me and falling in love with this group of girls like I had. I ran down to do a quick errand, and returned expecting that the room would be filled with eager teenaged learners. To my dismay, the volunteer said, “I think we’ve been stood-up.” What?! I’ve never had girls not show for my lifegroup! I texted to get some answers, as my ego reeled. I then quickly ushered the new volunteer to a girls group that actually showed up. I quietly returned to my empty room and had some words with God about the lesson I had worked hard to put together. Then, the door opened and one girl walked in. I was seething, and yet she had actually showed up even though she was 13 minutes late. I thought about teaching this one student, but then offered for her to sit in with another group. However, as soon as I offered that option, another set of words came out that I wasn’t expecting. “let’s go talk down in the coffee shop”, I said. As we sat at a table, she began to talk with me about dreams that I would never have heard. And while sitting at that table, I realized that God created space for that time to happen. My lifegroup lesson was not to be for a group of 10, but a group of 2. As I listened, I remembered why I had the best job in the whole world. At this point in our conversation, I received a text asking me to step into a conversation with a student who was experiencing inexplicable grief. I stepped into the conversation midway which caused me to do some catch-up, and wondered how God would prompt me to speak into this difficult moment. The leader was doing a masterful job of following The Spirit’s prompting, and she led me to share a moment from my past that paralleled some of what this young girl was experiencing. I would have missed seeing God at work in that moment too had my group shown up. Tonight, I had a plan. I prepared with that plan in mind. The plan was that this little group of awesome high school girls would show up and be transformed by our amazing last lesson on Experiencing God. But that wasn’t how tonight went. Ironically, I wasn’t supposed to teach on Experiencing God; I was supposed to do it!
God was at work tonight and it reminded me to prepare, but always be looking for how God is at work, and ditch my plans quickly if He’s not there. Thank you God for moving me out of my Lifegroup room tonight to be taught about Your activity.

So what about you? Are you writing your plans in pencil or pen? Are you able to see God when He is working? I hope this post has been encouraging for you as a leader. I hope it causes you to look at your week and ask how you’ve seen God at work in your work. If you haven’t seen Him, are there reasons that you are aware of that may “choke” the spirit’s work? Is there pride? Is there jealousy? Is there busyness? Take some time to celebrate His work in and through you and re-present your plans to Him.

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One thought on “The night my lesson got erased & taught me something new

  1. I had a group that didn’t show up, a few years back. We started a Sunday morning girls’ group as a Sunday School option (during the first service, then the youth went to church together during the second service). For the first two weeks there were about 7 girls present, super-keen to be in this group. After that, only one girl showed up. Big ego blow. So I took the one girl to Starbucks around the corner. We sat and chatted. We went to the flower market across the street and bought gerberas. Over a few weeks I had a chance to interact with a girl who had not been engaged with youth leaders previously, and it was wonderful. Last year, I tried to start a group for older teen girls, which floundered. 10 girls were very excited about it but it never quite got off the ground. I hate the ego-blow moments, but I’m also thankful for them – they show me that God is in control, that he knows better than me, and remind me that I really do NOT know it all…