The other day, my teens and I attended a workshop during which we had the opportunity to practice contemplative prayer. After doing so, the facilitator asked people to share their experience with 2-3 people near them.
My teens’ body language suggested it’d be good to share our experience as a table, with a larger group than the facilitator originally suggested.
When the facilitator saw us doing this, he walked over and stopped us, saying, “I said to share in groups of 2 or at most 3. If you don’t, a couple of you will talk the whole time.”
Though I think I hid my reaction from my students, I was horrified.
Who did this stranger think he was to tell me – the person who works with these teens on a daily basis – how best to minister to them?
Who was he to suggest that I – a veteran youth worker – couldn’t facilitate a discussion that would allow everyone to participate?
Despite my frustration, I recognized the inappropriateness of arguing with the facilitator, so we complied with his instructions. Though the adults in this workshop talked in their pairs for the next 10 minutes, my teens quickly ran out of things to say and sat in awkward silence.
As I reflected on this later in the day, it occurred to me, how often do I do the same thing to my small group leaders?