Are you a codependent Bible study leader?

Today’s blog post is a guest post that features content created by Dr. Dwayne McCrary for chapter 3 of a new book, Saddle Up. Dwayne has his doctorate in Christian Education and serves as an adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, MO. His day job finds him leading the teams at LifeWay that prepare series like Explore the Bible, Masterwork, January Bible Study, and several others. You can follow him on Twitter at @gdwayne.

In today’s post, which is also an excerpt from Saddle Up, Dwayne asks us to consider whether or not we are in an unhealthy leadership role as a Bible study leader. Leading is one thing, but leading from a position of codependency on the group is very unhealthy. Here is what Dwayne wanted us to focus on from this new resource:

The goal of the (group) plan is to lead the group to voice their answers to this fourth question (How might this truth change the way we think, believe, act, and relate?). They may do that privately, but they still voice an answer. We may even need to spur them on by revealing how we answered that question in our own lives.

We could tell them all we discovered, but that only gives the group information and in the process creates an unhealthy codependency.

“Let’s imagine that as we teach, we settle for being the lone voice heard. The expectation for the group is to sit and listen. We as the teacher prepare to deliver a well thought out presentation. We execute it flawlessly, saving only enough time at the end for a couple of prayer requests and an announcement. The group seems happy to soak in our wisdom and a few tell us how impressed they were with our presentation. As a group, they are content to simply sit and listen, and we are content with the pats on the back. We then begin to put together our next presentation so the group can easily sit and soak some more before they brag on our presentation. They depend on us to fill their heads with facts so they can feel good about their religious education while we depend on them to affirm us for the work we did to fill their heads with more facts. This is the classic example of an unhealthy codependency.

Unfortunately, what was just described gets carried out every week in Sunday School classes around the globe. The people in our groups need to discover the truths for themselves; this helps them learn how to do Bible study in the process. We cheat them when we settle for less”(Saddle Up, pp.44-45).

That’s a tough pill to swallow! I might be in an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with the members of my group if I believe that everything revolves around me and everything leads back to me. As a group leader, ask yourself why you lead – why do you teach a group? Is it for the affirmation? Is it because you feel needed? Do you see any unhealthy patterns in your motivation for serving?

To read the entire book in context, pick up your copy here.


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