More Team Concepts: A Look at Leadership

I guess, as you will see, I still have this thing about The Team rolling around in my head.  In last week’s blog, I just shared some general observations about being on and part of a team.  In this post and over the next couple weeks, I wanted to get a little more specific about what make a successful team.

John Maxwell said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership” in his great book on leadership, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“.  His statement is true whether it is in a church, the board room of a great corporate entity, an office setting, or athletic teams.  Leaders of any of these teams must have a “the buck stops here” mentality toward the performance  of the team they attempting to lead.  You the leader must OWN the results of your team.  In fact whether you have that attitude or not, people will still evaluate your skills as a leader based on your results.  So of course the question becomes, what makes a good leader of people?  How can you get closer to achieving results that would cause your TEAM to be successful?  Here are just a few of my observations from own experiences of being a leader and working under the leadership of others:

  •  Good leaders surround themselves with good people.  You will only be as successful as the people you surround yourself with as you attempt to lead others.
  • Good leaders learn the art of delegation.  Delegation means you trust those in your circle of leadership.  Without this element, success will be a fleeting pursuit.  Good leaders don’t attempt to do it all, but rather just make sure things get done.
  • Good leaders will always surround themselves with people smarter than they are in certain areas.  You don’t have to know it all and be the smartest guy/gal in the room, but to be successful, you just need to be smart enough to harness the intelligence of other people.  Once this is done the only thing left is to back up and allow them to do their thing!
  • Good leaders understand every team member is important and has a role to play in the success of the team.
  • Good leaders enjoy planning for success and then watching others enjoy the results of success.
  • Good leaders seek input from others on the team.  Buy-in from others will usually result when the leadership at least ask the opinions of other leaders/participants on the team.  By the way, as a leader never be afraid to say yes to another person’s idea on the team no matter what place they hold on the team.
  • This last one is obvious.  A good leader will always have followers.  If perceive yourself to be a leader, but yet no one is following there are on of two things wrong.  #1 You just are not a leader at this point in your life  #2 You may not be fostering a spirit of “it’s about the Team”, but rather giving the perception, “It’s about me”.  People will not follow ME leaders!



It’s All About the Team

As I sit here this morning waiting to head out the door for a day of softball with Olivia’s travel squad, I am watching College Gameday on ESPN.  I have been watching the various segments on the players, coaches and the teams.  I am about to go help coach a softball team made up of teenage girls.  I will keep this blog entry short and sweet, but I just wanted to share a few things concerning the team concept that I have learned over these many years of playing, coaching and just watching a lot of sports teams.

#1.  As parents ALWAYS teach your kids that the team should ALWAYS rise above the individual.

#2.  Instill a in your young people an attitude of confidence, yet humbleness.

#3.  As players and coaches insist on sportsmanship and class on the part of the team.

#4.  Remember teams win and teams lose – sure a mistake on the part of an individual may turn a game, but there should always be the question asked:  What could we have done as a team to overcome the mistake or have done previous to the mistake to make it a non-issue.

#5.  Create a culture where your team EXPECTS to win.  In our politically correct culture today we seem to start at an early age to teach that team sports are just about having fun and everyone being happy, but the reality in that it is always MORE FUN to win!  Train to be winners!  Practice to be winners!  Just expect to win and when you don’t learn from it, but don’t dwell on the loss.

#6.  Instill in your team a culture where they pick each other up when someone is in a slump.  I promise even the very best go through slumps.  Babe Ruth for decades was the homer champ, but he also was the leader in strikeouts –  he saw a slump or two!

#7.  This is for parents with kids on the team:  Do your kid a favor and don’t be a “helicopter parent”.  Don’t hover at the dugout during the game.  Don’t coach from the other side of the fence (especially if it contradicts what the coach is trying to accomplish).  You chose to allow your child to play on the team and for those coaches, so let them play and let the coaches coach.  If you want to coach, by all means put you a team together and coach.  Be your kid’s cheerleader, their biggest cheerleader!  Should you offer constructive criticism if warranted?  Yes, but remember they probably already know what they messed up and probably don’t really feel like rehashing it.

#8.  Encourage your kids to participate in some type of team oriented venture.  Whether it is softball, baseball, football or it may be the debate team, scholars bowl or band….they all teach the concept that life is about others and that no matter what we must learn to deal with other people of varying personalities.

Life is much more fun when we live it with others.  We have others to celebrate life victories with and also to get through sorrows.



Is Community a Thing of the Past?

I have thought a good bit this week about what it means to have a spirit of community.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines community as “a unified body of individuals“.    As I think about my life in this community that I have resided in for these 47 years that God has graciously allowed me to live, I am reminded of a few things that are usually brought to the surface in the midst of sorrow and loss.  Why is it that a community seems to bind itself together in the midst of times of sorrow and loss?  As I share just a few thoughts from this week, I hope I can answer this question and remind us that we should feel blessed if we are part of a real community.

First, the thing that I notice is that we live in a world today that really overlooks the importance of community.  People do not know their neighbors.   People are satisfied not to invest in their communities through volunteer work, through not finding a house of worship during the week in which to gather as a community, through not encouraging their kids to involve themselves in something that promotes teamwork (teams whether they are athletic, science club, band, etc all promote a sense of community) and just taking the road of “I’ll just keep to myself”.   Secondly, the reason for these things is because in many places we live in a world that promotes the attitude of “life is about me”.  I have told our church many times that the best way to describe the life and ministry of Jesus Christ it would be one word – “OTHERS”!  Life really is about others! It is about your family, your friends and yes, your community.  However, aside from these negative thoughts, I have been reminded this week that all hope is not lost!

I was able to attend a funeral service this week that celebrated the life of Coach Jimmy Drake.  You see Coach Drake epitomized community.  He was a man who loved the Lord, he loved His family and invested a great majority of his life in the lives of kids and his community.  He lived a life that was about “others”.  He left a legacy of being a community man.   In turn, our little community of East Limestone turned out in great numbers to show respect toward him and to show support to a great family because that is what a local community (that is truly a community) does for one another.  Also, as I have read stories from 9/11 on this 14th anniversary of 9/11, I was reminded of how our nation came together as a BIG community.  In the days that followed this attack on our nation from an evil enemy, no one was really interested in which lives mattered because all lives mattered.   No one was really interested in what race you were or where you lived.  No one really was interested in political parties because we had a common enemy that was intent on destroying our way of life.   People prayed together, people wept together, people worshiped together…..we as a nation became a community.

I am so thankful that I can still say that I live in a real community that takes care of one another and is always there when there is a real or perceived need in another’s life.   I pray that our nation will once again become a BIG COMMUNITY and set aside all these things that many seem intent on using to divide us.   I guess as I close this edition of my blog, I’ll leave you with this thought:  If you really want to be a community, we must be able to be described in one word – “OTHERS”.



The Church: A Crisis of Identification

As I think about and look at the different approaches that churches take to be relevant in our culture, I am struck by the fact that many churches in the day we live in have quickly become engrossed and too interested in the pursuit of being relevant to the culture and less interested in being an oasis from the culture.  My fear is that far too many pastors and church leaders have determined that in name of “nickels & noses”, we must become more and more like the world we live in today.  We have churches today that shy away from dealing with sin because it might offend.  We have confused offending with pointing out the reality that man/woman is flesh and unfortunately every single one of us have an issue with sin in our life.  I think the mistake that churches make in dealing with sin, is that they are closed to the thought of ministering to those struggling with those sins and have deemed them much more damning to the soul than your run of mill lying, gossiping, lust, coveting, idolatry (yes this is one most of us struggle with in some form in our lives), holding a grudge, etc.  Believe it or not these sins are listed in the same lists of what we deem as the “big sins”!  In other places of worship, we have decided that if we spend too much time preaching people won’t attend.  We must give them a celebratory time of worship and invite the pastor to give a little talk.  The Apostle Paul gave young Timothy a simple instruction, “PREACH THE WORD”.  Still in other churches the precious time that pastors have to share the Word of God with people, is wasted on expounding on the exploits of the week where politics are concerned.  God’s time he grants us to preach the precious Word, should not be wasted getting our digs in on the various politicians that may be in the news.   The previous items are just a few things that just come to mind as I write this blog.  So what is the answer, church?

Well, lets just look at the the church from scripture and the ministry of Christ and let them be our guide.  First, while we must love people and be tolerant, we also should be honest in our handling of scripture where sin is concerned and not just the sin that is the main course in the news.  We must be willing to deal with the supposed “little sins” as well as the “big ones”.  Deal with them honestly and straight forward, but yet with compassion just as Jesus dealt with every sinner he dealt with on a personal level(i.e woman caught in adultery {John 8}, Zaccheus {Luke 19}, the woman at the well {John 4}).  He never winked at sin and said it was ok, but yet he was interested in lifting people out of the situation they found themselves in at the moment.  Where the preaching of the Word is concerned, there is no more important part of worship than the expounding on the word of God with passion.  After all, the Apostle Paul tells us that God’s Word is “…power unto salvation.”  Yes, worship through song is important and sets the tone for the worship service.  Music in worship ministers to my soul and spirit.  It offers encouragement and may even bring conviction concerning the deep, abiding love of Christ, but even still the preaching of the Word must be given it’s due diligence.  Finally, as a minister of the word of God, my Lord called me to this place of service in His church not to tell funny jokes, get on a political soap box or just try to give a “talk” that won’t be too lengthy, but rather He called me to simply preach the word.  I guess to quote someone much wiser, my job as a pastor is to simply be “one beggar telling another beggar how to get a piece of bread”.  Bottomline church:  deliver the Word, love people unconditionally, minister to the poor, love each other and lift up Jesus.