By Allen White
Do you have a detail person in your group? You know. The one who catches typos and corrects any inaccurate dates? This is the Planner. Out of the four core personality types: Producer, Planner, Promoter and Peacekeeper as articulated by Vicki Barnes in her book, The REAL You, the Planner personality is concerned with systems and order.
If the Planner had a motto, it would be “A Place for Everything, and Everything in Its Place.” Planners choose careers from homemakers to attorneys to accountants to engineers. They tend toward perfectionism and are concerned about every detail. If you want to make a Planner’s day, then give specific appreciation to the details of what they did. Rather than making a general compliment like, “You led a good Bible study,” you want to get specific, “I really liked how you brought out the cultural background of that passage. It really put that Scripture in a whole new light for me. They will be thrilled.
Planners will follow the rules and probably add a few of their own. They may be determined to go through every question in a study guide, which is not really necessary. Just so they can sleep at night, the group leader should inform everyone that there are too many questions to possibly cover in one lesson, so we have selected a few key questions to discuss. The group is welcome to explore the rest on their own.
Luke the Evangelist, who authored the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, represents the Planner personality. Luke was a Gentile believer and does appear in Scripture until the middle of Acts when the pronouns change from “they” to “we” (Acts 16:10). Yet, Luke wrote a Gospel. In fact, he was the only Gentile and the only non-eyewitness to do so. This is where his Planner characteristics come out,
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4).
It’s not that Matthew or Mark had done a terrible job. It’s not that the Holy Spirit was absent from the inspiration and revelation necessary to pen Scripture. Luke, as a Planner, needed to thoroughly investigate things himself and share the conclusions with his disciple, Theophilus. While Peter couldn’t sit still long enough as a Promoter to write himself, Mark wrote on his behalf. Paul, the Producer, didn’t need to rewrite the Gospel. He was too busy breaking new ground. Luke took the time for careful research. He was a Planner.
Planners are going to, well, plan. They will plan an event. They will write an instruction manual for the event. They will write a dissertation on the manual for the event. They need to be given reasonable expectations and a deadline, then get out of their way.
Planners tend to be the least spontaneous of all of the personality types. They prefer to make a plan and stick to a plan. It will frustrate them to hear a constant flow new ideas, when the plan has already been set. Scraping the plan is even worse. If they’ve worked hard and something has shifted, you need to take time with them and give them plenty of detail for the change. Otherwise they will feel very unappreciated.
They can be accused of being nitpicky and critical. This mindset can often lead to negativity and depression. Typically, Planners have low self esteem, so build them up. Planners wrestle with the mixed motives of belonging and contributing. They are pulled between thinking and feeling. They grapple with relationships and tasks. What they pour into a task demonstrates their regard for relationship, but they may become so absorbed in a task that the relationships are set aside.
Planners are wonderful gifts to groups and teams. The Promoter will get a great idea. They always have ideas. The Producer will be ready to execute, but will be short on the details. The Planner can turn the Promoter‘s vision into reality and help the Producer improve on what they are doing. The Peacekeeper is the most concerned that everyone is ok.
For more information on People Skills workshop on Personality Types, CLICK HERE.
To read more in this series:
Producer: What if the Apostle Paul Was in My Group?
Promoter: What if the Apostle Peter Was in My Group?
Peacekeeper: What if Father Abraham Was in My Group?
By Allen White
1. Free eBook by Allen White
I am offering an ebook called Why Groups? which is actually the first chapter of a larger book I’m writing. I would love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve written so far. I’m also looking for a few people as a sounding board for some new ideas about groups in the very near future.
2. New Newsletter + More Blog Posts
Along with the ebook, I’m doing a couple of new things with the blog. First, I will start posting every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beginning this week. It will be a variety of articles on small group strategy, case studies, group leader training, coaching and other thoughts. So, be prepared. In addition, I am offering a monthly newsletter with all new content and ideas for groups.
3. More Newsletter + Less Blog Posts
I know some of you have appreciated the infrequency of my posts over the years. If that’s you, you might want to subscribe to the newsletter and drop the blog. Of course, I could encourage everybody to do all of the above.
3.5. Sign up!
To get the ebook, just fill out the form below to subscribe to the newsletter. Once you have confirmed your subscription, then you will receive an email giving instructions on how to download the free ebook. Sometimes the confirmation and download emails will get caught in your spam filter or promotions folder. If you have any problems, please contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading,
Small group leaders may be the only people who might ask that question. Professional athletes acknowledge their need for a coach. Many high powered business executives have a coach. But, why do small group leaders need a coach?
Well, let’s take a look at this the other way: what happens if small group leaders don’t have a coach? The first time we set out to form small groups at our church out West, we selected the best and brightest from our congregation. With these mature believers, we started ten new small groups. All of the groups were going strong, or so we thought, until they reached the end of the year. They all quit. When we asked why, the response was unanimous: “We loved our small groups, but felt like lone rangers out there.” I don’t blame them for quitting.
Leading a small group can be lonely at times. Every leader needs not only a coach but also a team of other small group leaders for encouragement and support. Sometimes in small group ministry we assume that the small group is the team. The truth is that the small group is our ministry. The team is made up of the coach and his/her circle of leaders. Together we can be encouraged. Together we can learn from others’ experiences. Together we can grow as leaders.
Your coach is available to help you. As leaders sometimes we feel that we should be able to handle every problem that crops up in our groups. That’s not true. While we would never want to exclude anyone from our groups, we certainly can’t care for every need in the group. When you feel overwhelmed by issues surrounding a group member, your coach is a great resource.
Let’s say that you have a group member who always talks about himself. And, that’s all they talk about. Most groups cannot tolerate a narcissistic person. For many groups, this is the beginning of the end. Your coach can help guide you in setting the proper boundaries for this group member. They can even help you refer the member to other help and resources at church.
You may be asking at this point: why can’t I just call the pastor of small groups? The answer is that you could. But, if hundreds of group leaders are calling the pastor, how long will that pastor last? In Exodus 18, Moses is confronted by his father-in-law, Jethro. Moses’ family had left him to live with Jethro. Moses didn’t have time for them. Moses’ days were consumed with solving the problems of all of the Israelites. Moses had very good reasons, he thought, for handling all of the matters himself. First, he was the only one who could do it. Secondly, the people liked coming to Moses. (I think maybe Moses liked it too).
Jethro pointed out to Moses that this system was no good. Moses was worn out. New leaders weren’t being developed. The people were frustrated. And, Moses’ family was living with Jethro.
So, Jethro offered a solution. Put the people into groups of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. If the leader of ten didn’t have the answer, then he would turn to the leader over him. The issue would travel up the chain until a solution was reached. Only the most crucial issues should get all of the way to Moses. The people would be happy. Moses would be less stressed. Moses’ family could return home. And, Jethro could live in peace. It worked.
This system was not only good for the Israelites, it’s also good for small groups and even business. Now, once upon a time, I thought that I could handle it all. What I discovered was that I could handle it all as long as “all” remained under 30 percent of our congregation. Anything above that created a debilitating, life-squelching bottleneck. That’s no way to treat a growing church body. Once a solid coaching structure was embraced, we reached 125 percent of our average adult attendance in small groups. Leaders were better cared for. I was less stressed. My family moved back home (okay, they never left, but you get the point).
Everyone needs encouragement. Everyone needs a person in their corner that they can count on for support. No leader should stand alone. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Who is your coach? What questions do you have for him or her? Take a little time to connect. Soon.