Ever led a small group meeting but found out you weren’t? Somebody else seemed to take over. It happens all the time. Groups are made up of so many different kinds of people and some of them can kill your small group. In case you’re wondering just how many different types there might be, no one knows for sure but Les Parrot, Ph.D gave us a great book titled How to Handle Impossible People, High-Maintenance Relationships. Each chapter deals with a different type of person. You may want to do a slow read and ask yourself, “Who in my group fits in this category?” Here they are:

• The Critic – Constantly Complains and Gives Unwanted Advice
• The Martyr – Forever the Victim and Wracked with Self-Pity
• The Wet Blanket – Pessimistic and Automatically Negative
• The Steamroller – Blindly Insensitive to Others
• The Gossip – Spreads Rumors and Leaks Secrets
• The Control Freak – Unable to Let Go and Let Be
• The Backstabber – Irrepressibly Two-Faced
• The Cold Shoulder – Disengages and Avoids Conflict
• The Green-Eyed Monster – Seethes with Envy
• The Volcano – Builds Steam and Is Ready to Erupt
• The Sponge – Constantly in Need but Gives Nothing Back
• The Competitor – Keeps Track of Tit for Tat
• The Workhorse – Always Pushes and Is Never Satisfied
• The Flirt – Imparts Innuendoes, Which May Border on Harassment
• The Chameleon – Eager to Please and Avoids Conflict

This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the types of people you will have in the room each time you meet. From my experience there are four types that wreak havoc on and cause a small group meeting to crash without any hope of rebooting that night. Here they are:

  1. The Rambler. The Rambler can’t give a quick answer to any question. Their initial response may be right on target but then they branch out into other areas of conversation that do not pertain to the core discussion.
  2. The Runner. The Runner wants to finish the study more than they want to see lives transformed. The Runner will not allow the conversation to veer from the curriculum and will push the group’s facilitator to on to the next question. The Runner is dangerous because they will never allow any part of the conversation to go on long enough to progress into a third layer discussion.
  3. The Story-teller. The Story-teller has a story to go along with nearly every topic of conversation. The problem with the stories he/she tells is that they don’t necessarily enhance the Bible study, reveal what God is doing or has done in her/her life, or help others to realize God is still at work for them. Stories told for the purpose of entertaining the group are distractions to the goals of the group.
  4. The Comedian. The comedian finds it necessary to “crack a joke” anytime he/she feels the door is open for a humorous moment. In most instances The Comedian is actually uncomfortable with where the experience is headed, especially when the group is about to arrive at a high risk, third layer discussion. Perhaps subconsciously this person, due to the discomfort she/he feels, redirects the emotions so that she/he will not have to go into deep places.

I would love to hear from you. If you’ve had someone in your group that fit any of these four categories, how about posting the type you had to deal with and then tell me what you did to save the group.