I lead a discussion every Wednesday evening at my church. For the last several weeks we’ve been discussing Christian Community and everything that goes along with that. Towards the end of last night’s discussion one of the regular participants asked when the group was going to hear from me, implying that I do not regularly share my thoughts with the class as we discuss the issues at hand. The comment caught me off guard. I didn’t really end up responding to it, but it has shaken me a little. Am I not participating in the discussion I’m leading? I think I do, but for someone to come out and say something like that makes me wonder if I have failed to share enough. Leading a discussion is a difficult thing. You have to pose questions, listen to answers, respond to answers, formulate new questions, and steer the conversation in a direction that doesn’t veer too much from the original topic. Maybe through all that I forget that I need to share as well? I don’t know.
While I’m on the subject of leading a discussion based class; a few weeks ago, a completely different person came up to me and said that they felt I needed to give more positive feedback when a correct answer is given during a discussion. That comment also left me a little shaken. I tried to explain that I give some feedback but don’t usually tell someone that they’re completely right because I’m searching for other opinions. As a discussion leader, in my opinion, my job is to hear many different points of view and not stifle the conversation by praising someone who gave the quick easy answer, which usually in a church setting is “God,” or “Jesus.” However, maybe I try so hard to not praise the easy answers that I stifle them by trying to not stifle others. That's a lot of potential stifling and yet, again, I don't know.
This discussion stuff is a whole lot tougher than I thought it would be. I just hope people are able to get things out of the discussion despite their flawed leader.