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1. Character

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Character of a leader

Acts 2:42-47 describes the Christian life applied in a small group setting—house churches meeting in Jerusalem led by the apostles. What each of those men brought to their small groups was their faith in Jesus Christ, their character, and the way they were uniquely gifted. Likewise, every small group leader in Christ’s Church brings to the small group those same things—faith, character, and uniqueness. Character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” The health of the small group is no doubt impacted by the character of the person leading it, character springing from your faith walk with Jesus Christ and expressed through your unique giftedness.

Think About It:

Thinking back on your own experience with small group leaders through the years, what character qualities in your small group leader did you find essential for a healthy, functioning group?

“Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. But it is not this way among you. Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:42-45)

Jesus contrasted the world’s concept of leader with what he wanted for his Church. Leaders in Christ’s Church (which includes elders, deacons, and small group leaders) are to be servant-minded. The phrase “servant-leader” best describes this role and heart attitude.

Think About It:

Describe a servant-leader you have known. What made you think of that person? Be specific.

Several Bible passages describe character qualities of servant leaders. Please read each passage below and the associated character descriptions.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 —

“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.”

  • Humble & teachable: Servant-leaders are to be humble and teachable. You don’t need to know all the answers, but you do need to be committed to your own faith walk with Jesus—living by faith and dependence on Him.
  • Christ-focused: As a servant-leader, your role and privilege are to point the women to Jesus, encouraging them in their relationship with Him above all else. Your goal is to help them learn to place their dependence more upon Christ and less upon you as their leader.

John 13:34-35 —

“I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

  • Love: A servant-leader commits to love the women in her group as well as those on her ministry team.

Think About It:

Why would humility, teachability, and love be important qualities in a small group leader?

1 Timothy 3:11 —

“(Women) likewise are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers, but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” (NIV)

Note: Paul outlines the qualifications for the office of “deacon” in 1 Timothy 3:8-13; verse 11 particularly addresses women (the Greek term gune denotes a woman, married or unmarried). The term deacon (from the Greek meaning “servant”) is used in the New Testament for both men and women, although this is not always clear in many English translations. The early church had both male and female deacons who were servant-leaders in their churches.

  • Worthy of respect: those who know her best recognize this. A respectful woman willingly submits to the authority structures in her life, including the authority of scripture. She strives to live a life worthy of her calling as she considers the well being of others.
  • Not malicious talkers: Women in leadership must guard the confidences shared within her small group setting or ministry team. She must keep in mind how her words may affect others and be careful not to share sensitive information (personal and/or confidential) in inappropriate settings (with those who don’t need to know that information). Use discretion when dealing with ministry concerns by only talking with those directly responsible for the solution.
  • Temperate: Although some associate the word “temperate” with abstaining from alcohol, the character quality “temperate” means to be self-controlled. From 2 Timothy 2:23-25, we get a good working definition of temperate: kind, patient, and gentle. All of these are likewise fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). A temperate woman yields to the Holy Spirit’s control of her behavior, attitude and emotions. She chooses unity over personal preference so is known as one who is cooperative and more interested in the goals of the ministry than her own.
  • Trustworthy in everything: Being faithful as Jesus describes it, “faithful in the little things.” The oversight and teaching of the church are to be entrusted to those who have proven themselves to be faithful. Leaders are held to a greater accountability; therefore, we must be diligent in pursuing and abiding in biblical truth.

Think About It:

Why would being respected, trustworthy, and disciplined in speech and behavior be important qualities in a small group leader?

Titus 2:3-5 —

“Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.”

Note: The term “older” can refer to age or spiritual maturity. Mentoring is someone older in the Lord helping someone younger in the Lord understand and apply biblical truth to every day life.

Think About It:

Who has effectively modeled the daily Christian life for you? How?

  • Exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy: Don’t let this phrase scare you. The Greek word used here referred to the work of a priestess serving in the temple of her God. For us as Christ’s women, all that we do should be done “as unto the Lord.” Our daily life in all its aspects is continual ministry before God as we serve and represent him before others.
  • Teaching what is good: knowing what is good comes from knowing Jesus Christ and the Scriptures as your source of truth.
  • Role models: We want to draw women to God’s Word and truth rather than pushing them away from it. Women look to their leaders as examples to follow so no matter where we are in our own personal faith walk with Jesus, they need to see our desire to allow God to change us and grow us in our daily lives and roles as women.

Think About It:

What are some of your fears about being a small group leader?

For most small group ministries, the leaders generally come from various church backgrounds. Each small group leader is also learning and growing in her faith walk with Jesus. Your ministry probably has a statement of faith associated with it. Some parts of that statement may be considered “non-negotiable,” that is, all leaders are expected to not only agree with those doctrines but also support those positions should they come up in small group. Some examples of non-negotiable doctrines might be:

  • The Bible is the inspired Word of God
  • God is a Trinity: three persons in one
  • Jesus is God: not just a human religious teacher.

Think About It:

What are the Non- Negotiable Doctrines for your church or group?

Procure a copy of your ministry’s statement of faith and read through it. As you read, make note of anything you need to clarify or further discuss with your ministry team leader. After you read through it, do the “Think About It” activity below.

Think About It:

Is there anything in the Statement of Faith with which you dont fully agree or about which you have further questions?

Based on the list you wrote in the previous Think About It box, is it a non-negotiable?

  • No, it is not on the non-negotiable list. It’s probably okay for you not to intellectually hold the same position as your ministry on those, but be sure to ask your questions to your ministry director for your own growth.
  • Yes, it is on the non-negotiable list. Please make an appointment with your ministry team leader to discuss that issue.
  • Usually if anyone in leadership should have varying degrees of agreement on the “non-negotiable” doctrines, the assumption of the ministry leadership is that she will verbally support the ministry position or refrain from discussion. And that, if she cannot agree when faced with defending the ministry’s position, she will direct individuals to the proper authority who can explain and defend the ministry’s position scripturally.

If you do not hold the exact position as your church or ministry on a non-negotiable doctrine, what are some gracious ways you can support that non-negotiable issue if it arises in your small group? See also Community for other ways to handle controversial doctrines in a group discussion.

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

  • Why do I act the way I do?
  • Why doesn’t he or she do things the way I do them?
  • Why can’t I seem to connect with that person?

What you are really addressing is BEHAVIOR.

1. Observing behavior is historical.

From ancient times, people have been observing people. Centuries before Christ, the Greeks recognized 4 basic categories of human behavior, using the terms “Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic” to identify each. Other systems of classification have since been used.

2. Behavior is how you naturally tend to react to the environment around you.

This affects how you communicate with others and also how you receive their communication. Behavior can change over time. Your behavioral tendencies today may be somewhat different from what they were 20 years ago due to the many circumstances and life phases you have experienced.

3. Behavior is not personality.

Personality is a complex issue that deals with emotions and usually falls under the realm of psychology. Behavior doesn’t deal with whether you are happy or sad, nervous or depressed, angry or calm. A visual used to describe the difference between behavior and personality is a tree. Personality is like the tree roots—unseen but developed long before the tree grew tall. Behavior is the visible part—the trunk and branches.

4. Behavioral variety is good.

When God created Adam and Eve, He placed in them genes that would give variety to the human race in hair color, eye color, body shape, size and also in behavior. Since God made Adam and Eve to complement one another, we can assume they were different in their behavioral tendencies. But, together they made a team. It is a mistake to think that as we are conformed to the image of Christ, we will be cookie cutter images. That is not biblical thinking.

We know that one behavior type is not better than another. One strength is not better than another. Some are just more suited to specific tasks. All are needed in a society and definitely in the body of Christ.

5. Recognition of behavioral strengths and weaknesses is beneficial.

Everyone has behavioral weaknesses. The challenge for us is to be willing for God to grow us in those areas and to appreciate others who are strong in the areas where we are weak.

We know we are not perfect but are being perfected by the Perfect One whose power is sufficient for our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) In fact, when our tendency to self-sufficiency is overcome, we best recognize our need for Him. The main value of recognizing behavioral strength and weaknesses is to help you understand yourself better as well as those closest to you. You become more aware of what you bring to your ministry team and to your small group.

6. Behavior can be assessed through the DISC dimensions of behavior.

Many different approaches to human behavioral differences have been made through the centuries. In recent years, the one assessment tool used most often in ministry settings utilizes the DISC dimensions of behavior.

Developed in the early 1900’s, this tool has been widely used by businesses and Christian ministries because it helps to enhance teamwork. The DISC dimensions of behavior are based on behavioral tendencies—not personality. Assessments incorporating these dimensions have been developed that you can do on yourself. One such assessment is found in the next section. It’s simply a tool that will help you to understand yourself better, get along better with those around you, recognize and develop your strengths, and help you to develop teamwork with your co-leader or ministry partners.

Think About It:

How would being aware of your behavioral strengths and weaknesses enhance your ministry as a small group leader?

Discover Your DISC Dimensions of Behavior

According to the researchers who first outlined these dimensions of behavior, people fall into four basic categories (or, dimensions) of behavior as described by the diagram below. The measure is based upon whether one is:

  • Fast-paced or slow-paced in reacting to one’s environment
  • Task-oriented or people-oriented by nature

Examine the diagram below. Mark where you think you fit.

Take the assessment online at to get a more accurate description.

As you take the assessment, remember:

  • This is not a test. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, no “pass” or “fail.” There are no “good” or “bad” behavior profiles or patterns.
  • Rank your choices as honestly as possible from your point of view, not someone else’s perception of you (husband, mother, friend…). You are the only expert on you.
  • Go with your first impressions. Avoid the temptation to analyze or dwell on each word.
  • Choose to focus on how you behave in a specific environment such as your home or ministry.
  • The goal is to give you information to help you become more aware of yourself and others.

Once you complete the assessment, write your primary and secondary tendencies below.

Think About It:

Primary behavior dimension: _______________ Key words that describe me (see next sections):

Secondary behavior dimension (if applicable): _______________ Key words that describe me (see next sections):

How would understanding behavioral tendencies have helped you to relate to a past ministry partner or small group member?

A description of each behavioral dimension is located in the following section of this handbook. Read yours carefully. (NOTE: If nothing seems to match “you,” it’s possible you took the assessment incorrectly. Retake the assessment.)

You can use this assessment to enable you to communicate and work well with others so as to encourage them to reach their potential as well. As you read through the various descriptions below, notice how the information can help to enhance communication and teamwork as well as help you to resolve conflict with others.

How You Tend to Behave if You Are a… “D”

  • Fast-Paced and Task-Oriented = Dominant, Direct and Active.
  • Key word: RESULTS.

The “D” behavior tendency describes those whose emphasis is shaping their environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results.

  • D’s are comfortable at solving problems, making quick decisions, and accepting challenges.
  • D’s struggle with impatience, overlooking cautions, and being demanding of others.
  • Motivate a “D” by emphasizing goals and results and soliciting their help to accomplish them. Let them have control of something. Get in their face and challenge them. “I bet you can’t do…” often works.
  • Resolve conflict with a “D” by being direct, ask what is necessary for a “win-win” solution while avoiding “who’s right or wrong” debates.
  • Biblical characters who seemed to have “D” behavior patterns: Paul (combo D and C) and Joshua.

How You Tend to Behave if You Are an… “I”

  • Fast-Paced and People-Oriented = Influence, Interested and Lively.
  • Key word: RECOGNITION.

The “I” behavior tendency describes those whose emphasis is shaping their environment by influencing or persuading others.

  • I’s usually speak with ease so are valuable as lecturers, greeters, and making people feel very comfortable.
  • I’s struggle with sensitive feelings, being unorganized, and telling long stories.
  • Motivate an “I” by appreciating their efforts in front of others, letting them have fun, and putting them in a position of influence over others.
  • Resolve conflict with an “I” by assuring her of your love and relationship, dealing with the issues without personal criticism, and caring about her feelings.
  • Biblical characters who seemed to have “I” behavior patterns: Moses, David (combo I and C), Peter, and Abigail.

How You Tend to Behave if You Are a… “S”

  • Slow-Paced and People-Oriented = Steady and Cooperative.
  • Key word: RELATIONSHIP.

The “S” behavior tendency describes those whose emphasis is on cooperating with others to carry out the task.

  • S’s are dependable team players, will do a job consistently week after week, and are good listeners.
  • S’s struggle with resisting change, soft-heartedness, and procrastination.
  • Motivate an “S” by emphasizing the need of the group, minimizing conflict, and doing things together.
  • Resolve Conflict with an “S” by emphasizing what is best for the group or team, being calm and friendly, and offering a comfortable solution.
  • Biblical characters who seemed to have “S” behavior patterns: Abraham, Hannah, and Dorcas.

How You Tend to Behave if You Are a… “C”

  • Slow-Paced and Task-Oriented = Conscientious and Correct.
  • Key word: RIGHT.

The “C” behavior tendency describes those whose emphasis is on working conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy.

  • C’s are valuable at organizing information, problem solving, and maintaining accuracy.
  • C’s struggle with getting bogged down in detail, hesitancy to reveal true feelings, and taking a long time to make decisions.
  • Motivate a “C” by emphasizing quality in a task, giving her time to do things right, and working closely with her so she knows her work will be approved.
  • Resolve conflict with a “C” by stating the issue calmly and logically; ask what is necessary for a “win-win” solution, and giving her time to think about the situation. Be sure to schedule a follow-up discussion.
  • Biblical characters who seemed to have “C” behavior patterns: Luke, Mary, and Ruth.

Using DISC Behavior Tendencies To Improve Communication

How to relate to a D: Be Direct

  • Start with results or benefits first, then provide details only as needed
  • Show how you can help the “D” get those results done
  • Talk to her in terms of the benefits
  • Be quick, to the point

How to lead/motivate a D: Emphasize Goals, Results

  • Give her the what; let her determine the how
  • Let her have control, be in charge of something
  • Use laissez-faire leadership, give her as much free rein as possible to do the job
  • Get in her face and challenge her

Resolving conflict with a D: Tends to Be Direct, Aggressive

  • Avoid “right/wrong” debates by stating differences without judgment
  • Ask what is necessary for a win/win solution
  • Use open-ended questions to get to the real issues
  • Wrap up discussion by stating what each person has committed to do to resolve the conflict


How to relate to an I: Be Enthusiastic

  • Be positive, friendly
  • Provide praise
  • Validate her self-worth
  • Give her the feeling of “I need you”
  • Give the “I” the opportunity to express her opinion
  • Talk to her in terms of who else has done this

How to lead/motivate an I: Emphasize Group, Recognition

  • Consult with her about ideas, projects, people
  • Recognize her efforts in front of others
  • Let her have fun
  • Use participatory leadership, give her ownership of the leadership process
  • Put her in a position of influence over others

Resolving conflict with an I: Avoids Direct, Open Conflict

  • Recognize her discomfort with loss of approval
  • State the issue factually without criticism of her as a person
  • Limit her attempts to minimize the problem or sidetrack the discussion
  • Wrap up the discussion with a clear statement of what is going to happen, by when, and affirm your relationship with her


How to relate to an S: Be Relational

  • Be friendly, easygoing, low key on objectives
  • Don’t push; let her respond at her own pace
  • Talk in terms of how the team will be affected
  • Let the “S” know that you value her personally
  • Talk to her about why you want things changed

How to lead/motivate an S: Emphasize Group, Community

  • Doing things together is important
  • Always maintain the relationship
  • Let her have peace; minimize conflict
  • Use any leadership style, but maintain variety
  • Reassure her she is part of a team, is appreciated

Resolving conflict with a S: Tends to Avoid Hostility & Conflict

  • State the need to resolve the conflict in order to maintain stability and harmony in the relationship
  • Draw out uncomfortable issues by asking open-ended questions
  • Ask her what she would need to resolve the issue in a way that is reasonable and effective
  • Be calm and friendly


How to relate to a C: Be Analytical

  • Present clear facts and objective ideas
  • Don’t rush
  • Be specific and thorough
  • Speak to the “C” in terms of quality
  • Focus on the details
  • Talk to her about how to do what is to be done

How to lead/motivate a C: Emphasize Goals, Quality

  • Be available to work closely with her
  • Let her have time to do things right
  • Use relaxed leadership if it is competent leadership
  • Assign tasks that play to her strengths of quality & accuracy; doing it the best way

Resolving conflict with a C: Tends to Withdraw & Get Defensive

  • State the issue calmly, logically, factually, citing specific behavior
  • Ask what she would need to resolve this conflict on a “win-win” basis
  • Recognize her need to think about the situation before responding by scheduling a time to have a follow-up discussion

Think About It:

What did you learn from these lists that will help you relate to someone whose behavioral tendencies are opposite of yours?

Not only are you uniquely designed in your behavior, you have also been gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve the Body of Christ. A spiritual gift is a supernatural capacity for service to God in the Body of Christ.

All believers receive the same gift of the Holy Spirit but individually receive spiritual gifts that differ, according to the will of God, to be used for the common good.

Although opinions differ on the actual number of spiritual gifts, the Bible clearly indicates a variety of gifts understood from such key passages as Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. Listed below are some of the gifts and how they are beneficial to the Body of Christ, especially the local church body.

The following list is adapted from “The Gifts of the Spirit” by Kenneth Boa accessed at

  • Administration (1 Corinthians 12:28) — The ability to steer a ministry toward the accomplishment of God-given goals and directives by planning, organizing, and implementing what is needed to accomplish the goal including supervising others. A person may have the gift of leadership without the gift of administration.
  • Discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10) — The ability to clearly discern the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (cf. 1 John 4:6). With this gift, one can distinguish reality versus counterfeits, the divine versus the demonic, true versus false teaching, and in some cases, spiritual versus carnal motives.
  • Evangelism (Ephesians 4:11) — The ability to be an unusually effective instrument in leading unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ. Some with this gift are most effective in personal evangelism, while others may be used by God in group evangelism or cross-cultural evangelism.
  • Exhortation (Romans 12:8) — The ability to motivate others to respond to the truth by providing timely words of counsel, encouragement, and consolation. When this gift is exercised, believers are challenged to stimulate their faith by putting God’s truth to the test in their lives.
  • Faith (1 Corinthians 12:9) — The ability to have a vision for what God wants to be done and to confidently believe that it will be accomplished in spite of circumstances and appearances to the contrary. The gift of faith transforms vision into reality.
  • Giving (Romans 12:8) — The ability to contribute material resources with generosity and cheerfulness for the benefit of others and the glory of God. Christians with this spiritual gift need not be wealthy.
  • Helps (1 Corinthians 12:28) — The ability to enhance the effectiveness of the ministry of other members of the body. Some suggest that while the gift of service is more group-oriented, the gift of helps is more person-oriented.
  • Leadership (Romans 12:8) — The ability to discern God’s purpose for a group, set and communicate appropriate goals, and motivate others to work together to fulfill them in the service of God. A person with this gift is effective at delegating tasks to followers without manipulation or coercion.
  • Mercy (Romans 12:8) — The ability to deeply empathize and engage in compassionate acts on behalf of people who are suffering physical, mental, or emotional distress. Those with this gift manifest concern and kindness to people who are often overlooked.
  • Service (Romans 12:7) — The ability to identify and care for the physical needs of the body through a variety of means.
  • Shepherd or pastor (Ephesians 4:11) — A person with this spiritual gift has the ability to personally lead, nourish, protect, and care for the needs of a group of believers. Many with this gift do not have or need the office of pastor to be useful to the body.
  • Teaching (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11) — The ability to clearly explain and effectively apply the truths of God’s Word so that others will learn. This requires the capacity to accurately interpret Scripture, engage in necessary research, and organize the results in a way that is easily communicated.
  • Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8)--The ability to apply the principles of the Word of God in a practical way to specific situations and to recommend the best course of action at the best time. The exercise of this gift skillfully distills insight and discernment into excellent advice.

Discover Your Spiritual Giftedness

Various spiritual gift assessments are available to further help you understand how you have been gifted. We recommend the online spiritual gifts analysis freely provided by “Ephesians Four Ministries” of the Church Growth Institute at the following website:

Please take this assessment (or any other assessment you have available to you). Be sure to allow yourself at least 15 minutes to answer the questions for this analysis. At the end, you will receive a detailed description of what may be your main spiritual gift. Often, a second gift is evident, and that description will be displayed as well. If possible, print these descriptions for future reference.

Think About It:

Primary gift: __________________ Brief description of this gift:

Secondary gift (if applicable): __________________ Brief description of this gift:

What did you discover about yourself regarding your spiritual gift(s) and how they could benefit your ministry as a small group leader?

Ministry Team Value

Please let your ministry team coordinator know the results of both your DISC Dimensions of Behavior and the Spiritual Gifts Analysis. Your coordinator and your ministry team will benefit by knowing your strengths, weaknesses, and spiritual gifts.

The purpose in doing these assessments is to:

  • Help you gain a better understanding of yourself, to recognize your innate weaknesses, and to appreciate your own God-given strengths
  • Help you better understand those closest to you
  • Enable you to better communicate with others
  • Enable you to better encourage others to reach their potential

Celebrate your unique design and giftedness by bringing Jesus Christ glory as you use your gifts in the Body of Christ. And, although you are gifted with many strengths, even in using those natural strengths and spiritual gifts be ever mindful that you need to continually depend on His power to use them for his purposes and for his glory. Ask Jesus to show you how to use your strengths. And, pray for him to be working through you in both your strengths and your weaknesses.

“For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’” (Acts 17:28)

Related Topics: Christian Education, Women