One of the dangers of small groups can be a mentality of co-dependency of those within your group. In our American culture, it’s easy for people to view small groups as cliques rather than the New Testament description we see in the book of Acts. Cliques encourage dependence on each other in that group. The church in Acts encouraged each other to become dependent on Christ. Co-dependency is man-focused while Christ-dependency is God-focused.
It’s so important that, as leaders, we are constantly pushing people to become dependent on Christ and not ourselves. All of us like to be needed, but none of us can be someone’s “Messiah”. We want to always be pointing people to the One Who is their Messiah because He is ultimately the only One Who can meet their every need. Now, this is NOT about not investing into people. We simply must follow the Spirit’s leading. We don’t want to enable people’s co-dependent tendencies, which is why we must engage when the Spirit leads us to engage and then step back and give margin for the Holy Spirit to work. If we are quick to judge when God uses someone else to minister to a person in your group or even ourselves, that may be an indicator that we are building co-dependent habits, because ultimately the end goal is to point people to Christ, not ourselves.
II Corinthians 4:5 “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
I Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;”
When we are wrapped up in what Jesus has done for us and who He has made us to be, we will show forth His praises because we recognize He as saved us from darkness. God has called us to something greater than our own salvation. He wants to use our salvation to lead those around us to their own salvation. He has made us royalty. We are changed. We are peculiar. Why? Because we are no longer dependent on anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ for satisfaction and sanctification. That is what we have in Christ that the world can never have with each other. That’s why it’s so important, that as leaders, we are constantly leading people to find satisfaction in Christ. Because they have been freed from having to find that in lesser things that can never ultimately satisfy. In order to lead people from co-dependency to Christ-dependency, we must first be dependent on Christ. Let’s look at some characteristics of a Chirst-dependent person.
THEY REALIZE THEY ARE FULLY LOVED AND ACCEPTED IN CHRIST
God expresses His love for us to Jeremiah when He said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” It is God’s love that draws us to Himself, because we cannot find a love like His in anyone or anything else. It is unchangeable and everlasting.
THEY OFTEN SPEND TIME IN HIS PRESENCE
There is an undeniable radiance in someone whose closest friend is Jesus. Because Jesus means so much to them, they see Him in fellow believers and the need for Him in the unsaved. Because they commune often with God, it is Him who others see when they look at them.
THEY ARE CONTENT WITH WHOMEVER GOD SENDS TO MINISTER TO THEM
Because they see Christ in others, they recognize the Holy Spirit is behind every work in their lives. They do not need a specific individual to minister to them, because they know that it is ultimately the Spirit ministering and not that individual.
THEY ARE COMPLETELY SATISFIED IN CHRIST
They exemplify a peace in every situation, because it is Christ Who is their peace and not their circumstances. Psalm 17:15
Now that we’ve seen some marks of a Christ-dependent person, let’s look at some indicators of a co-dependent person.
THEY WANT PEOPLE TO BUILD THEIR EGO
Unlike the Christ-dependent person, they are looking to people to give them a sense of self-worth. This can be shown in ways like needing public recognition for their effort.
THEY CRAVE LOTS OF ATTENTION
Because they are needing others to boost their ego and give them acceptance, they talk about themselves. A lot. They are often the hero of every story or they could play the victim of every story. They are never the one in the wrong because they are either needing people to think highly of them or feel badly for them. In any case, it always points back to self.
THEY UNINTENTIONALLY IDOLIZE PEOPLE AROUND THEM
What you idolize you will eventually demonize and sometimes the best way to know what you idolize is recognizing what makes you upset when it or they do not behave the way you want. This can be difficult to pinpoint because most of the time, it is “justifiable” in our own eyes. Yes, our kids need to behave. Yes, our spouse needs to love / respect us. Yes, the church needs to edify each other. It is when these things don’t happen and we cannot have peace, that shows us we are idolizing these things. A Christ-dependent person can not have all these things and still be at peace and love these people just the same, because their dependency is not on these things or people. It is on Christ. And Christ never changes.
We, as leaders, must be very careful not to cultivate an environment at Ambassador that fosters a spirit of idolatry and co-dependency. Our church is here on a mission – to glorify God and reach Fresno with His gospel. But that won’t happen until we start living in total dependence on Christ and lead others to do the same.