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5 Lessons for Life Group Leaders from Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is ”inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic ‘Mary Poppins’ made it to the screen.” Tom Hanks portrays the iconic Walt Disney. Emma Thompson takes on the role of P.T. Travers, author of the beloved classic.  After going to the movie with friends, I quickly jotted down 5 Things Life Group Leaders can Learn from Saving Mr. Banks:

Mrs. P.L. Travers had a personal story that permeated her life. Not only did her personal history affect the way she wrote Mary Poppins, it affected the way she responded to everyone and everything in her life. Travers had a unique – and somewhat abrasive personality.

Anyone like that in your group? No names, please.

When we know the “back story” of the people in our group, it changes how we relate to them.

Walt Disney made a promise to his daughters to make Mary Poppins into a movie. He did just that. It took him twenty years to see that dream come to reality.  While Mary Poppins was certainly a good business decision for Walt Disney, the core of this venture was fulfilling a promise to his daughters.

As leaders, we must keep our promises.

Successful leaders will help group members accomplish their goals, without missing the opportunity to fuel the dreams of family.

Time and time again – the an agreement of the Mary Poppins script seemed impossible. At one point, Mrs. Travers left California and returned to England. She had quit.

In the movie, Walt Disney takes the next flight to England to pursue her and the project.

Who is missing from group? What are we doing to reach out to those who are not showing up?

Life Group Leaders must be intentional about seeking out those who are lost, absent and even those who want to quit.

The movie portrays the  Walt Disney,  sharing a vulnerable truth about his home life with Mrs. Travers.

“That’s what story tellers do. We restore order with imagination. We bring hope.” – Walt Disney @SavingMrBanks

Life Group Leaders have to let our group members see into our lives.

Leaders who model personal story telling will open the heart of their group.


The creative geniuses that worked for Walt Disney are legendary.  Collaborating with Travers, they truly faced an artistic and personal challenge. While Disney had the dream of seeing Mary Poppins on screen, it was the team that helped him accomplish this goal.

Vision won’t take shape without a team.  Draw group members onto your team and work together to see something that is beyond magical.

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Christ Follower - love my husband and family - thrive on learning new things - expecting every day more than I can ever hope or imagine! #Beyond #Nextassignment


  1. Amazing blog Lisa – I especially liked the one about story telling opening up the heart of a group – real authentic life can only be seen when we unpack the layers of pretense.

  2. Lisa, this is awesome and so timely… we went to see the movie this afternoon. Very good observations and applications!


  3. I saw the movie last weekend and haven’t stopped thinking about it, especially the significance of backstory. Excellent insight and application, Lisa. I’m leading a training session for the small group leaders for our women’s Bible study at the end of the week. I’ll use this in my teaching (with credit to you, of course.) Thanks for taking the time to post it.

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