Lead Small Groups With Your Eyes Open

My small group is studying spiritual disciplines. We are using a book by John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, to guide the study.

Examples of spiritual disciplines typically include:

  • Prayer
  • Bible study
  • Fasting
  • Worship
  • Giving
  • Service

John Ortberg surprised me by describing sleep as a spiritual discipline. Really? Sabbath is a spiritual discipline, but sleep is different. To understand if it fits as a spiritual discipline, we need to understand what a spiritual discipline is.

What Are Spiritual Disciplines?

…Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7b (NASB)

John Ortberg defined spiritual disciplines in this way:

Spiritual discipline: Any activity that can help me gain power to live life as Jesus taught and modeled it.”

John Ortberg in The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People

I like this definition. Would getting adequate sleep help us to be more Christ-like, more godly as small group leaders? If so, it is a spiritual discipline.

Sleep Deprivation

The consequences of sleep deprivation can include:

  • Lack of focus
  • Poor decisions
  • Irritability
  • Reduced energy
  • Decreased memory

Each of these negative effects can make it difficult for you to lead your small group and certainly would not allow you to do it in a way that Jesus taught and modeled. For example, as members are answering questions, a lack of focus may keep you from asking good follow-up questions and send a signal that you are not interested in the conversation. Even your relationship with God can be affected.

Getting adequate sleep will help in eliminating these consequences. Sleep really is a spiritual discipline.

Get Some Sleep

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies insufficient sleep as a public health problem. The statistic that surprised me the most was in one study where 4.7% of adults said they nodded off or fell asleep while driving at least once in the previous month the survey was taken!

Many of us need better sleep.

I purchased and read the book Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success based on a recent recommendation from Pat Flynn. Here is a list of just a few of the tips discussed in the book.

  • Get more sunlight throughout the day and no light of any kind when sleeping
  • Turn off electronic screens 90-min before bedtime
  • Set your thermostat cooler during sleep hours
  • Go to bed early and get up early
  • Dress appropriately for sleeping

If you need to adust your life to improve your sleep, consider getting a copy of the book and applying it. (Warning: One chapter in the book is on the sleep value of physical intimacy with your partner. If this will make you uncomfortable, please don’t read the book or at least skip chapter 9.)

Consider doing the 14-Day Sleep Makeover described in the back of the book. Let me know how it impacts your life, including leading a small group.

Question: How has your ability/inability to get adequate sleep affected your ability to lead a small group? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.