The Value of Observing

By: Eddie Mosley

In my over 30 years of ministry, I have never read about the practice of observing.  It is something we probably do naturally in leadership without realizing it. For example, when eating lunch on Sunday afternoon you look at your spouse and ask, “Did you notice how Beth responded during the discussion on loving your boss as Jesus loves the church,” or on your drive home from your neighborhood small group and you ask, “Were you reading the body language of Steve when we were discussing failure?”

Observing is an important habit for sports, work, parenting, marriage, etc; but it is not a common topic written about or discussed in training. While some may consider it an art, it “is a community discipline that has a particular importance in small group life.”[1] In the middle of Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry by Gareth Weldon Icenogle I discovered an entire chapter on observing.

“When Jesus was with the Twelve, he was deeply aware of their feelings, moods, reactions and intentions.”[2] Jesus used his observations to enhance his teaching, coaching, confronting and guiding.

In order to communicate truth in a life-altering, applicable way (goal of biblical community) we as teachers and leaders should be aware of what is going on in the lives and minds of our group members during group time. By noting what is happening in the group’s life, interpreting what this behavior means, and making needed changes “on the spot” to improve our success in communicating the truth.

“Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years because the people refused to become self-aware of their dysfunctional group dynamics.” Life transformational teaching is more than information distribution in one- or two-hour time blocks. Because of the limited amount of time we have in groups we must be more aware of what is happening in people’s lives; that requires extra effort during the week to communicate, listen, grab coffee, play golf, shop, etc. in order to observe.

Be encouraged to observe more intentionally and intently this week. Give group members time to talk, discuss and ponder the scriptures and principles. Pause during Bible study and let the Holy Spirit show you what is happening in the room. Pray for spiritual discernment on how to lead with what you have observed.

 

[1] Icenogle, Gareth Weldon, Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 186-197
[2] All quotes are from the above text.

 

  • don’t forget to email us pics from your group activities, events, and study

  • continue to pray for your lost and searching friends, neighbors, and co-workers

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