With a full school year ahead, it seems odd talking about finishing well in September – yet even as a twentysomething I have seen how quickly time passes. The end arrives and we exclaim how vividly we could remember day one!
Since we all know how elusive time can be, it’s important to intentionally prepare for the finish line. There is a beauty that comes with celebrating the end of a season. It’s always bittersweet – the collide of thankfulness, sadness, good memories and unknowns. As a leader, what do you say? What is important to cover in your final meeting?
3 Questions to Help You Finish Well
-REMIND: What main points do you want to spend some of your last few minutes reinforcing?
The answer to this question is largely determined by the “win” you chose at the starting line. I believe the most important concept I can ingrain in my girls is the gospel – and that’s no secret to them. By our last meeting there is laughter and chuckles and statements of “let me guess…” because my girls know what’s coming. Never be afraid of repeating your win too often. By the time you are about to go crazy repeating it, those around you are often just starting to get it.
Being fully aware that 70-75% of students leave the church after graduating high school, there are a couple other important things I want to keep in mind. On a fundamental level, I want to do everything I can along the way to help my girls develop a desire to spend daily time in Scripture and in prayer. It’s crucial for them to be dependent on God – not on me. (I’m researching some ideas now to use with my own group and am planning to also pass that on to you soon!).
I also, however, want my girls prepared for the rocky patches and heartaches of life. I want my girls to understand what authentic faith is when life is confusing. In the midst of the questions and confusion, I want them to remember that “Faith is confidence that God is who He says He is and will do all that He has promised” (Andy Stanley). I want them retreating to Scripture to figure out what He has promised when life hasn’t worked out at all like they had planned.
-AFFIRM: How can you use your influence to speak words of life over your girls? How can you lead them to speak life over each other?
John Maxwell wrote “If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it.”
This is so true and girls desperately need encouragement as they are preparing to walk into a new season. Regardless of age, new seasons can be scary. In many cases – especially if they are going off to college – their hearts are going to be revealed in this next season. Before they make those decisions I want them to hear and know that I believe in them. I want them to know the talents I see in them and for them to be looking for the good works God has already prepared for them. I want them to blossom in confidence as they know they are fully known by God and dearly loved.
I also want them to realize how much they are valued by each other. Once or twice during the year, I open discussion up for reflection and often pose the question “What is one thing you have learned from (insert group member’s name here)?” We start with one person and everyone shares one thing they have learned and appreciated about that person. It’s amazing the effect this exercise has on girls. It’s always a reminder to me of the power of words and how much life they can bring.
-LAUNCH: What is their next step?
I disciple girls so that more girls can be trained to teach others who God is and what He has done. In their own way and using their own gifts, I want my girls to find a way to also begin investing in three younger girls. It’s largely why I give outlines for all our lessons. I want to do everything I can to make their next step easy and attainable.
For seniors, there are additional changes coming. In the next few months they will be finding their church home, getting plugged in and figuring out a place to serve. While I have some very targeted lessons during the year to prepare them for that moment, I also want to make sure I discuss this with them at the end.
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Whether it is my small group on Sunday mornings or my discipleship group, I have my girls fill out a short three question evaluation so I can gauge whether I accomplished my goals and al
so determine ways I can improve as a leader.
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