I struggle a lot with group situations at church – Bible studies, training sessions, you name it. In particular, if it’s a situation where my husband is not present, it’s tough for me. I can talk about my issues of shyness and fear of crowds at another time. But this particular struggle is in wondering when and how I should speak up.
For instance, if the leader asks someone to pray, should I volunteer to set an example for the group, or should I refrain from volunteering because it would be dominating too much? I generally do not step up to the plate on this one because I am not very comfortable with praying aloud and only do it when I feel it is necessary (like when I’m leading the study).
If it’s a Bible study, how often should I share my thoughts? And to what degree? I am learning to hold back and let others share, because this is an area where I could potentially dominate. I get all kinds of ideas when I’m in a Bible study, thoughts and memories from studies in the past or experiences I’ve had, concepts and connections that pop into my head based on the conversation or just the text itself, questions or comments that may only be helpful to me. I don’t always know when my thoughts are merely for my own benefit and when they are useful to the group at large. Beth Moore, a Christian speaker and author, wrote in one of her books (I don’t have it with me so I have to paraphrase from memory) something about how those who are teachers can’t help wanting to share what they know – when God gives them a thought, they want to shout it from the rooftops. I find myself in that predicament a lot.
This struggle for me comes from years of being the pastor’s kid where I had more of the answers than others, from having several years of training and from my love of reading books about ministry and theology. I feel an abundance of shareable information welling up inside of me whenever I get into those kinds of settings, and I never know if I should shut up or speak up. I try to remind myself that being the pastor’s wife does not mean I have to change who I am, but it’s still an ongoing struggle. I want to allow others to share their thoughts, and often times their thoughts lead to more thoughts in my head.
Maybe I should start bringing a journal with me to Bible studies and jot down all of these thoughts for myself. I sometimes forget that God places those bits of wisdom into my head first for my benefit, and then sometimes for the benefit of others.