Safe People, Safe Groups

Recently, I've been conducting a lecture/workshop on Celebrate Recovery in a local church. I was blessed because the members of the group feel safe with one another! I'm blessed. Safe places, safe times, and safe people. Everybody needs this. Without a relationally safe place where people are both challenged and loved, growth and change cannot occur.

In Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s “Safe People Workbook,” they list a number of personal traits of “unsafe people.” Here are 14 of them:

1.) Unsafe people think they “have it all together” instead of admitting their weaknesses.
2.) Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual.
3.) Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback.
4.) Unsafe people are self-righteous instead of humble.
5.) Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behavior.
6.) Unsafe people avoid working on their problems instead of dealing with them.
7.) Unsafe people demand trust instead of earning it.
8.) Unsafe people believe they are perfect instead of admitting their faults.
9.) Unsafe people blame others instead of taking responsibility themselves.
10.) Unsafe people lie instead of telling the truth.
11.) Unsafe people are stagnant instead of growing.
12.) Unsafe people avoid closeness instead of connecting.
13.) Unsafe people flatter us instead of confronting us.
14.) Unsafe people gossip instead of keeping secrets.

These 14 traits can be used to help us describe safe people and safe groups as well.

1.) Safe people do not think they “have it all together” and willingly admit their weaknesses. Safe groups are places where people can confess their shortcomings.
2.) Safe people are spiritual, not religious. Safe groups foster spiritual formation, not religious artificiality.
3.) Safe people are open to feedback and are not defensive. Safe groups offer feedback that is received by the members.
4.) Safe people are humble and resist being self-righteous. Safe groups embrace weakness, and members seek the needed grace to change.
5.) Safe people apologize for wrongdoing and change their behavior. Safe groups focus on change and accountability.
6.) Safe people work on their problems. In safe groups, members admit to problems and work on them.
7.) Safe people earn trust and don’t demand it. Safe groups grow in trust.
8.) Safe people admit their faults and believe they are not perfect. Safe groups are transparent and authentic; members share their shortcomings.
9.) Safe people take responsibility for their own actions and do not blame others. Safe groups have a high level of personal responsibility and accountability.
10.) Safe people tell the truth; they don’t lie. Safe groups risk speaking the truth in love.
11.) Safe people are always growing, never stagnant. In safe groups, members continue to show positive change over time.
12.) Safe people connect with other safe people. In safe groups, members bond to each others and become friends.
13.) Safe people challenge and affirm one another and are not patronizing. Believing that “iron sharpens iron,” safe people are graciously confrontational.
14.) Safe people don’t gossip. Safe groups are places where confidentiality is a high value.