The other day someone asked me what I think makes some of the best leaders. Here is what I wrote down. (I won’t lie: I forget some of these things, and this is a great reminder for myself.)

The best leaders:

Are students, not know-it-alls. They are in groups to learn for themselves, not to try to convince students they know everything. When they are leading a Bible study, they are open to learning and are on a journey with students. Groups that grow together, stay together.

Spark conversations, not dominate them. The sole job of a leader in a small group is to get students talking about their faith. The best leaders are the ones who know how to ask good questions to get students talking. Jesus was the best at asking questions, and leaders need to follow that example. Poor leaders think this is the time for them to shine and let the students know how “theological” they are. If they just want to talk, they shouldn’t be leaders.

Don’t have a “perfect” Instagram life. Most people post the “highlights” of their lives, making it all good and no bad. The best leaders let students in on their dirt, too. They are real, open, and authentic with their lives and their faith. When leaders take this approach, students will start to be real, open, and authentic with their lives too.

Listen well. We always think that we need to say the right thing when in reality, students want someone who will just listen and be present with them. Does this mean we don’t say anything at all? No. It just means we create a place where students know they will be heard. The best leaders are the ones who listen intentionally.

Want to multiply. The best leaders want their groups to grow. They want to create a culture of inviting friends. The best leaders want to take on new leaders to train them up on how to create a learning, authentic, inviting culture. The goal is that they would then go out and start their own groups, multiplying themselves.

Not all your leaders will check every box on this list, but even if you get a few of them to start, you will see your culture begin to shift over time. Find them, love them, and multiply them. The best leaders create more “best” leaders.