a is for alpha
Last night was the first night of Alpha small groups. It’s clearly the closest thing in my life to the first day of school feeling, when you’d show up at class with an eagerness to see who else would be there. And with the first night of small groups comes the impetus to put people at ease. Well, those of you who know me fairly well know that I’m about “at ease” with small talk as I am with tartar sauce—which is to say– not at all. So, being the husband that I am, I just hide being my wife’s impressive small talk skills, honed from years of doing hair. Then, when the conversation hits on an actual topic, I jump in. Except last night, she went quiet and I was left to fend for myself. My inability to cherry pick speaking opportunities caused me to realize a couple things I may not have realized otherwise.
My View of My Role. The last time I hosted in 2007, I had an idea of what I hoped to see happen. And I had an idea of what I thought I could do to get the group going that direction. While I was respectful of the Alpha structure, I couldn’t see myself clearly enough to realize that I was placing myself too much in the middle of the group, preventing them from being steering in whatever direction the Spirit led. Bad idea.
This time around, I have a much better idea of who I am and what I’m all about. Same with Angie. So the “Alpha Host Manual” was basically tossed out. Angie and I did our best to make it clear through our behaviors and words that we were there to create an environment – an environment that was safe, confidential, honest, and loving— where they could grow together. Then we did something crazy – we actually listened to what people were saying. And even more crazy, listened to what the Lord was telling us about the things that people were saying. And it got fun – fast.
Grace. Our group is made up of six married couples plus Angie and me. With Angie’s tied tongue, I was left trying to make clear statements about how Angie and I do business. After giving the group our email addresses in case they wanted/needed to reach us, I disclosed that Angie and I are honest with each other about the information we receive and who we’ve talked to. However, I wanted to note that if there were special circumstances where a male in the group needed to email me (or a female to Angie) on an issue that was sensitive enough to keep private, that we’d do so. Unfortunately, my explanation of this exception to our marital “Full Disclosure” rule ended up sounding like a bizarre mix of Cialis & Massengill commercials and an NBC “The More You Know” spot. In evidence of both their good humor and their gracefulness, the group met that statement with laughs and giggles and smiles. Of course, I’m not sure if it was the statement that made them laugh or the look Angie was giving to me as she listened, but either way, they handled me well.
It never ceases to amaze me how much you see God move when we get out of our comfort zones. Granted, I didn’t voluntarily choose to leave mine, but my Father absolutely blessed my (occasionally awkward) willingness to serve as called. It was a good start…and I’m ready for week 3.