January Small Group Devotions


Grow From Experiences

1) Sharing: Joy (What’s going well this month?), Junk (What isn’t going so well this month?), Jesus (How have you seen Jesus acting through others this month?)

Go around the circle, say your name and answer the following:

What made celebrating Christmas meaningful?
What is wonderful/hard about winter for you? How do you handle it?
What are THINGS…..you don’t like to fail at?
What are THINGS…..you don’t want advice about?
What are THINGS…..that are hard to put back together?

2) Focus: Life is filled with all kinds of experiences that include joy, celebration, sorrow and challenge. God promises to be with us and give us strength and wisdom to grow through all life’s experiences. Sometimes, we resist God and the people God has placed in our lives to help us. We are stubborn and proud and think we can do it on our own. Today we’ll share ways to open our mind and respond well to whatever comes our way.

3) Read & Discuss: Elaine Bailey commentary: “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” ~ Virginia Satir   Life is messy and uncomfortable at times. Things don’t always go to plan. We encounter bad experiences as well as good ones. For example, you might get criticism from someone that makes you feel raw and vulnerable. The pain feels so real it hurts you to the core. Perhaps you can’t let go of it in your mind, you keep replaying it over and over.

For example, you might get criticism from someone that makes you feel raw and vulnerable. The pain feels so real it hurts you to the core. Perhaps you can’t let go of it in your mind, you keep replaying it over and over.

When you’re stuck in the middle of a problem it’s hard to see it as an opportunity. It’s easy to wallow, say woe is me and keep replaying the story of just how bad things really are. You may react to the situation in one of the following ways:   Explode with anger; Get frustrated; Shrink inside yourself; Get caught in the drama (…and jump on the pity bus!); Ignore it; Cry; Blame someone else; Freak out and panic; Become anxious and obsessed with worry; Fear (of failure or being exposed); Discouraged and want to quit; Want to run away, change your name and start again! Why do we react this way?…Because the pain feels so real, it makes you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, and if you give it power then it will stop you dead in your tracks.

“Every problem introduces a person to himself.” ~ John McDonnell.

I LOVE this because I believe whatever you are going through in your life you ALWAYS have the opportunity to grow through it and from it. Every experience unlocks a little more about who you are and how you show up in the world.

“If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow.” Beyonce Knowles

Discuss: When have you recently handled a situation in your life in a very healthy way? …in a negative way? What have you discovered from both?

Read: Rom. 8:26; 12:12; Phil. 2:1-8—Share what you learn from each passage

How can we respond as people of faith to challenging situations? What qualities do we need to develop & practice?

Read & Discuss cont.: Phil. 4:13; 1 John 1:8-9—When have you been unable to see your fault in a situation? What are the promises in these passages? How can they help us to respond well to all life situations?

Read & Discuss: 1 John 4:7-9; 1 John 4: 18-20—What makes it easy to love someone? What makes it difficult? What do these passages say about love? What do they mean that perfect love casts out fear?

Read & Discuss: (Elaine Bailey commentary) Here’s how I see it…It’s ALL about your attitude towards the situation and how you manage it and pain it creates. Let me explain some more…

Pain is a great teacher – The pain that you feel when something goes wrong teaches you about where you are just now and who you are in that moment. How you handle the experience you are having defines whom you become and influences the ultimate outcome.

You are NOT alone – The truth is that life is messy! We all experience both negative and positive times. You can’t avoid it – It’s just a natural part of life and an essential part of being human. Know that this moment will pass and you will move through it and beyond it.

Lead your way through – How we handle the problem defines us and determines whether we settle and survive or create and thrive in our lives. You have two choices here: 1) Allow it to hold you back and limit you OR 2) Allow yourself to learn through it and grow. People who are successful often talk about a difficult time and how this was the pivotal moment on their development.

Own it don’t deflect it – Don’t become the victim: woe is me! Take responsibility for moving through and making change. Some people cling on to their story replaying it for everyone to hear. It becomes their excuse for staying stuck. Look for the opportunity in every situation.

Reframe the situation – My role is to help them reframe their problems and transition through their pain using it as a catalyst for success. How can you use this situation to unlock your creativity and find a solution? Here are a few prompts:

  • What is the problem?; What am I currently thinking about it?; How does it make me feel (what emotions are associated with it?)?; What am I learning; What do I want the outcome to be?; What options are available to me? What support do I need from others?; What’s your first step?

Remember there is no destination. Start from where you are right now and see every experience (good or bad) as a place where you can make positive change and growth.

Share: What situation in your life, currently, needs changing? What are you doing to make that happen? How is faith & God’s presence in your life helpful? In what ways do you need more help?

Read the following quotes: Share how they might help you think more positively about life situations, particularly challenging ones:

Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. Mary Tyler Moore

Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God. Pope Francis

The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up. John C. Maxwell

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. e. e. Cummings

I think you grow wherever God plants you. I hope I’m growing as a person of faith, as a Christian. That should be our number one objective this journey of life. That all starts with a personal intimate relationship with Christ and then being in prayer every single day about all of those things – being tenacious about it.

4) Sending: What will you do this next month to live out growing from experiences as a faithful follower of God?

5) Closing Prayer: Close your small group time in prayer by coming up with a prayer as a group, or read the following together:

Gracious God, ever present, help us to trust you are every present, whatever comes our way. Give us wisdom to face life’s joys and challenges. Open our hearts to the cares and needs of others. You have gifted us with love. Help us to accept and love ourselves and to accept and love others. Teach us to be forgiving, especially when it’s hard. Thank you for your gift of the Holy Spirit and being ever present in our lives. Amen.