A Small Group Plays a Critical Role, even in the life of prominent leaders.
SUMMARY: We should never underestimate the importance of a small group. In this Resolute Leadership Podcast, Vince Miller hosts Wayne Pederson, president emeritus of Reach Beyond an international ministry providing the message of Jesus Christ to nations across the world. Listen as Wayne shares about the importance of a small group in his life even as a leader and the benefits of time with other men.
Vince: This is Resolute and the Resolute Leadership Podcast. I am Vince Miller, your founder, and host. And today we’re joined by Wayne Peterson, former President of Reach Beyond. Looking at the topic of small groups and their importance.
Welcome to the program. If this is your first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Our mission at Resolute is to disciple and develop men to lead. So if you’re looking for content for your men’s group or men’s ministry, then you need to go to our website today at beresolute.org. We have a number of great tools for men who are leading other men – including some brand new small group series that we know that you would love for your men’s groups. But now, let’s dive in.
Well, I am joined today by Wayne Peterson. Wayne is the former President of Reach Beyond, which an international ministry that takes the gospel to the farthest reaches of the planet through modern media. He has also served with Moody Radio and KTIS for decades. Wayne, as we get started here – I know that you’ve had a – a number of years of leadership experience, and I know we’ve built a little bit of a relationship in our trip to Israel.
But I, I really think that you bring wisdom to men from a different perspective in life. Recently retired from Reach Beyond, and now you’re– I guess you use the phrase “rewiring,” right? Your life a little bit – not retiring, but rewiring. And as you lean into these moments now, you still have a lot of old friendships out there that you have maintained over the years. In fact, I know this week that you’re going to reconnect with some old friends in a small group that’s existed for a long time, right?
Wayne: Well Vince, thanks so much. And when I began in management and leadership, one of the first things I did – and it was probably one of the better decisions in my life, was to connect with a group of older and more experienced leaders. And so it started out with Paul Suiter 02:29, Paul Cedar, who was President of the Evangelical Free Church of America. We had lunch together and said let’s – let’s start meeting with a group of guys once a month.
And that was the beginning of a group of – actually 5 ministry leaders of national organizations – like Billy Graham Association and Bethany House Publishers, and Evangelical Free Church of America and Christianity Today. Without mentioning the names of the individuals, those are the kind of leaders we met with.
And Vince, of all the leadership books I’ve read – and all the leadership seminars I’ve attended, this group of men meeting for lunch once a month, for over 15 years – has been the most formative part of my Christian maturity for one thing, and also my ability as a leader to be able to have a group that regularly bounces things off one another, gives consult to one another, support to one another. And I learned more about leadership through these 5 men than I have in any other source over the years.
Vince: Okay, so as a young guy – like myself – I am still learning and growing. I have gotten some education from books. Which is – is always helpful. But it sounds like you – you guys meet together without necessarily a formal agenda, and you just talk through the issues of life. Is that what happens in this particular group?
Wayne: We never have an agenda. We take turns hosting this lunch meeting. And we never have an agenda, but we always have something to talk about. There’s some issue either on the national level, global level, or a personal level. Our guys have gone through buy outs, and they’ve gone through law suits and loss of spouse or issues with children or financial crises at one time or another – and we’ve been there for each other. And I know when I was facing a – a career crisis, one of the members of the group gave me his phone number, and says, “Here, here’s my phone number. Call me, even if it’s 2 o’clock in the morning.” And–
Vince: Okay so, I think these– We underestimate this, right? We underestimate the power of life on life friendship, discipleship, conversation, prayer, discussion in God’s Word. And I – I think this is really important for guys to hear. That there – there’s something about education. There’s something about sitting in a group with a – a plan and a process and everything in place.
Vince: But there’s something about the process of life, just happening to us. Where we could probably learn more than any other place. Is that true?
Wayne: Well absolutely. You hear this thing more as caught than taught. And I’m not discounting the role of books and seminars. They’re all important, and I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge – and hopefully wisdom and insight through that. But to see good leadership modeled in front of you, is impactful. And I would recommend to any man in secular or – so called secular or ministry leadership – to tag on to somebody that has more experience than you, and learn. Whether it’s one individual that you pick as a mentor. Or I really recommend a group of guys that can model good leadership.
And I was so impressed. Because these guys knew everything. They knew everybody. They had this wealth of experience, and all these connections. And so that was helpful to me. And now – Vince, at this part of my life, and – retired or rewired. I’m finding that I’m able to do that with younger leaders. And even though it’s not a formal thing, some younger managers and leaders that have attached to me – and I’m able to kind of model good leadership to them.
Vince: Yeah, well – I mean you’re doing that for thousands of listeners right now. You’re doing that with me, just as you sit with me right in this moment. But I – it’s interesting. So you put yourself around a group of guys. They were all a little further ahead of you, I think you’re being humble of course. But they’re all a little further ahead of you in life and maybe leadership. And you just exposed yourself to them – through some of the trials that you were facing, through some of the challenges. And then you learned from their challenges as well, right?
Wayne: Well that – that’s certainly a part of it. How do you deal with a crisis when it comes in your personal life or your ministry? But also – it’s not just the knowledge part, but the support you get. As one of our members was going through a very difficult lawsuit against his ministry, we were able to surround them with our concern and our counsel and our prayer. Because being a CEO, being a President can be very, very lonely. There are things you can’t share with your peers or the people that report to you. So to have a group of leaders that understand what it is to be a CEO. And you’re able to share things there that you can’t share with anybody else is tremendously important.
Vince: Okay so this group formed by accident or – what were the steps that happened where this group came together 16 years ago?
Wayne: Well it – it was intentional. It wasn’t a accident for me. It started with – as I mentioned with Paul Cedar, who was the President of the Evangelical Free Church of America at the time. We had lunch, and we talked about a need for this group. So we put out some feelers to some friends and colleagues. And it was very intentional that these leaders of national ministries needed to have some commonality in a forum, in which they could get that kind of wisdom, counsel, support, and encouragement. So yeah–
Wayne: We saw the need for it, and it was very intentional.
Vince: Oh got it. And I think – I don’t know about you, Wayne – but as I – and I work with guys. I think sometimes we’re not as intentional as we should be. And based upon the outputs that you’ve gotten over the last 16 years, just personal outputs – meaning spiritual growth, spiritual support. The love and care that has happened through highs and lows.
The prayers of the – the study of God’s Word even. The unique challenges and the confidentially that you’ve been looking for. You found it all right there. But it takes initiative to begin that. And so, it sounds like to me – that you would tell all of our listeners, they need to get in a group.
They need to find a group where they can hone – not only their character, but their wisdom, their growth as a man, father leader. Whatever identity they take shape in. Even their job and their work life. Is that right? Would you say to these guys, “Be intentional and find a group of men?” Or at least, “Another man to put your life in front of that’s further along than you?”
Wayne: Well absolutely, Vince. We’re guys and we tend to – saying, “Well I don’t need anybody,” or, “I don’t need this.” But honestly, you do. Some of the intellectual decisions that I have had to make over the years – I’ve run it past this group, and they’ve given me some good counsel. And counsel that I wouldn’t have had a perspective, I wouldn’t have had otherwise. There was a problem I brought to the group, and they said, “You need to do this, and you need to do it now.” And stressing the priority and the urgency of it.
So if you don’t have a group – and it can be in your church, it can be in a – a Parachurch situation, whatever. But start with 2 or 3 guys, and take the initiative to call them up and say, “Hey, would you be interested in – in meeting periodically, weekly monthly?” Whatever it is. “Just to support and encourage and pray for one another. Would you be interested in doing that?” You may have to make a half a dozen phone calls, but I’m thinking Vince that the guys that are listening to this right now, they might have 2 or 3 names and faces have come to mind and said, “Yeah, this is a group that I – I could relate to.”
Vince: Yeah. That’s, that’s fantastic. I – I would echo that, Wayne – and say that – we can’t do life alone. We think we can, until we have a fall. And then we have to take some initiative to correct that. And if I was a guy listening today, and I didn’t have a group – I would just go find a couple of guys that are further along than me spiritually. That are further down the leadership road than me. And I would just absorb their life. I would just listen to them.
And I agree with you. I think – just a little side bar here about what you said a few minutes ago. I think it’s sometimes good just to have a group, so people can tell you something to do, right? That may be hard for you to do, that you need to hear.
Vince: I have told guys a number of guys that, “Look, we sometimes can’t make decisions for ourself. Sometimes we need to let other wise people make decisions for us, when we can’t see through the fog. And it sounds like you might’ve had one of those moments with these guys. So well, Wayne – thank you so much for sitting with us today. We look forward to a couple of other conversations. And just appreciate you being here.
Wayne: Thanks, Vince, it’s a great opportunity, and I know of your ministry – how firmly you believe the importance of a men’s accountability group. So thanks for the opportunity to share my story.
Vince: Well guys, that’s the show. Thanks so much for listening. As we close, I want to remind you that we do have some great content for your men’s groups. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead, and equip them to build the men around them. Check it all out at beresolute.org.
And I hope you enjoy this podcast today, but please know that the time that we spent together today is worthless, unless you choose to do something with it. So get in a small group – and get off the bench, and into the game. And we’ll see you right back here next time on The Resolute Podcast.