3 Phrases Every Group Leader Should be Quick to Say

I love eating “God’s chicken” (Chick-fil-A). Although I appreciate the cleanliness of the company’s restaurants, and the high-quality food, my favorite part of a visit is hearing a Chick-fil-A team member say, “It’s my pleasure” after I’ve said thank you when they hand me my meal. CNN has reported on the origins of the now-famous phrase:

The origins of the pleasantry began in 2001, at the company’s annual seminar for franchise owners…Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy told the group a story about visiting a Ritz-Carlton. Whenever Cathy thanked a hotel employee, the worker would smile and respond, “my pleasure.” At the time, Chick-fil-A, which Cathy started in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia, was trying to expand beyond the South and distinguish the brand nationally from fast food chains with a reputation for subpar customer service…Cathey believed using the phrase would surprise customers and stand out in the fast food industry. He once called it a “head-turner.” Read the full article here.

There’s no doubt that the phrase has helped Chick-fil-A stand out in a crowded industry. A simple phrase was a game-changer for Cathey and his company.

Let’s think about applying this concept to group ministry. Could it be there are other phrases that we might use as group leaders that would help us stand out to our members and guests? What if group leaders were willing to use the following phrases? Might these be game-changers as well?

1. “I don’t know.” Whenever I’m asked a question by a group member during a Bible study and I struggle to come up with the correct answer, the phrase “I don’t know” has saved me several times! Although I want to be perceived as an all-knowing group leader, the fact is, I’m not. Rather than making up an answer or pulling some information from the recesses of my mind that might not be on point, I’ve grown comfortable telling my group members, “I don’t know the answer to your question – but I’ll find one.” They don’t expect me to have all the answers, but they do expect me to be honest. This short little phrase has made my role as a group leader much easier! It takes a lot of pressure off of me, and it proves something that my people already know – I don’t have all the answers

2. “That’s on me.” As a group leader, I am responsible for what takes place (or doesn’t take place) in my group. If we are not having enough relational time outside of the group Bible study, that’s on me. If we are not as evangelistic as we should be as a group, that’s on me. If we are not raising up apprentice leaders, that’s on me. The phrase “That’s on me” is all about accepting responsibility for leading the group. I can absolutely delegate many responsibilities to my fellow group members, but at the end of the day, what happens (or doesn’t happen) is on me. How powerful is it when a group leader stands before his or her group and says, “Folks, we haven’t been as active in serving our community the past several months. We need to do better – we need to make a difference…and that’s on me”?

3. “I need you.” Group leaders have a tendency to be “Lone Rangers.” We often accept the unrealistic role of doing many things ourselves on behalf of the group. But truth be told, there are people in our groups who are just waiting to be asked to help. Telling a group member “I need you to become our group’s prayer coordinator,” or “I need you to take over scheduling fellowships and fun events for our group” invites others onto the group’s leadership team. If we don’t ask, our people will assume they are not needed, and there’s nothing further from the truth.

These three simple phrases can be life-giving to your group members, and they can make leading the group easier and more enjoyable for you. Take some pressure off of yourself, invite others to step up and serve, and accept responsibility for the overall health and work of your group. And when someone in your group tells you thank you for teaching and leading the group, just say, “It’s my pleasure!”

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