By: Laura Ketchum
So, you’re leading a LifeGroup. Congratulations! Whether your LifeGroup is brand-new or you’re a seasoned leader, your decision to provide a place for others to form community and grow in their faith is an admirable one.
Chances are, when you decided to lead a LifeGroup, you had an image in your head of what you hoped your group would look like. A welcoming place. A safe place. A place where people from different walks of life could come together, learn about God’s Word, and encourage one another.
But as with most things in life, your expectations for your LifeGroup might not always match up with reality. Challenging times are to be expected, and sometimes those challenges even come from people in your LifeGroup! Don’t worry. It’s normal to experience some roadblocks. If you lead a LifeGroup with difficult people, you might find yourself asking questions like:
Does being a loving LifeGroup leader mean allowing the people in my group to say whatever they want, even if it’s distracting? At what point do I need to have a discussion with someone about their problematic behavior? Can I discuss someone’s behavior with them while still making them feel loved and respected? And is there ever a point at which I should ask someone to leave the group?
Do any of those questions strike you as familiar? If so, keep reading. Below, you’ll find strategies for dealing with different types of difficult people. Use this advice to help your LifeGroup become more like the community you’ve envisioned.
The Difficult People You Might Encounter in Your LifeGroup, and How to Deal With Them
- The Person Who Monopolizes Every Conversation
There are a lot of reasons why someone might talk a mile a minute or try to turn every conversation back toward him or herself, but often, it comes back to desiring a sense of control. Dominating people and environments helps them feel heard and gives them a sense of security—often without them even realizing what they’re doing. You can respond to these people by thanking them for their input while reminding them that others have valuable things to say, too. You might try asking a question directly at someone else. If the behavior persists, you may need to have a one on one conversation, helping them understand that you love what they contribute but that others need space to share their thoughts, too. Some grace-filled honesty is the best path forward here.
- The Person Who’s a Downer
Maybe this person is going through a difficult season and every story they have to share is negative. Maybe they’re just naturally critical. Either way, their focus on the worst in life can make spending time around them difficult. But as their LifeGroup leader, you can help this person by responding with kindness and concern, gently sharing how their comments and stories might hurt or affect other people, and generously offering forgiveness if needed. Again, love and honesty will go a long way.
- The Person Who’s Overly Needy
There are lots of ways a person’s neediness might present itself. Maybe they take advantage of others’ time and money. Maybe they’re desperate to find a job or a boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe they’re in constant need of life advice. No matter their perceived need, they always seem to need help but rarely seem able to help themselves. They can be emotionally, physically, and financially draining. It’s important to remember we can’t fix the overly needy, but we can pray for them and give them helpful resources—a Bible, a counselor’s phone number, a budget system—while also respectfully setting healthy boundaries. Yes, again: loving honesty is your best tactic for dealing with this kind of difficult person.
- The Person Who Makes Your LifeGroup Feel Unsafe
The likelihood of this happening to your LifeGroup is slim. But it’s important for you to know that, if you find yourself in this situation, you’re not expected to just cope with it or deal with it on your own. Should a person attend your LifeGroup who makes you or any member of your group feel unsafe, reach out to your campus’ LifeGroups pastor. They have the experience necessary to make sure the situation is handled responsibly and sensitively.
Dealing with people can be tough. We’re all imperfect, and we’re all in the process of growing and learning. Which means leading a LifeGroup won’t be easy. But by sacrificing your time and energy to disciple others, you’re glorifying Christ and fulfilling the Great Commission. Even in the challenging times, the work you’re doing is good and important. Don’t lose sight of that.