Winning Leadership

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19 & 20

Colorado is known as a football state.  Though we have all four major sports represented in the Mile High City, and each has a great and wonderful fan base, it is the football team that has won the hearts of the Centennial State’s residence.  Even with natives like me being increasingly hard to find, the love of our football team has never wavered.  That team and that sport is firmly part of the Colorado DNA.  It is part of what makes Coloradan’s, Coloradan’s.  We put on the orange and blue and root-on our team (which, just to remind all the non-orange-and-blures out there, our team is the reigning champions!  Sorry, I had to do it ☺).

Moving south of the Mile High City is another football team that is beloved by many Coloradan’s.  They do not play on quit the same stage as the orange and blue, and in many cases they aren’t even considered a true contender among their own football peers.  However, this team has a history of overachieving and accomplishing great feats.  This team sits in our own backyard and is a northern Colorado Springs neighbor of New Life Church.  This team represents our country.  This team is the United States Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons.

The reason I want to talk about this team is because two years ago they did something that really exemplifies the point I want to bring about in this article.  After completing a dismal two win season in 2013, they turned things completely around and finished their 2014 season with ten wins, including a 38-24 victory over Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  Though they did not win their conference, the turn around they accomplished was nothing less that remarkable.

The question that has to be asked is how does a team accomplish such a turn around?  I assist in the coaching of a local high school football team, and our Head Coach recently brought this very question to the young men on our team.  Our coach pointed out to our young men that Air Force did not change coaches, nor did they have a massive turnover in players, or a sudden influx of great talent.   So how did they accomplish this feat?  According to our coach, and I agree whole heartedly, the only way a team can pull off such a turn around is through great leadership and buy in.  Something changed in the leadership between 2013 and 2014.  Again, the coaches were largely all the same, so it was leadership at the player level that really made the difference.  The senior class that took over in 2014 was bound and determined that they would not allow what took place the previous year to repeat itself on their watch.  And whatever they said and did that year was enough to convince the underclassmen to buy in and follow suit.

Just for the record, in 2015, though their overall record fell just slightly, the United States Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons football team won 8 games and had their second consecutive bowl game appearance.  In other words, the leadership of the 2014 senior class rubbed off on those who led the team in 2015.  I trust we will see similar success in the season ahead.

So what does this have to do with Groups at New Life Church?  This, in my opinion, is the type of leadership and leadership development that needs to be taking place in our groups moving forward.  New Life Church leaders must recognize the importance of their role as disciplers.  They must recognize that God has entrusted to them His son’s and daughters, and as a result, they must determine to help others take steps toward Jesus – spurring them on toward spiritual maturation and the development and use of spiritual giftings.

Groups are not intended to be gossip sessions, or social clubs.  They are meant to be a way for the church to unify, to grow in faith, and to expand in its influence.  If Groups are invisible, if people within our groups are not growing, if new leaders are not being developed and new groups forming, then we, as a church are settling for two win seasons.  We aren’t fulfilling one of the major purposes of the Bride of Christ.  Sure, we are gathering together, worshiping together, building relationships with one another. We are certainly playing the game.  However, if we are not discipling others, leading so as to develop and send out new leaders, then we are losing more than we are winning.  

As a coach and former athlete, I love winning.  However, I hate losing just as much if not more.  It drives me to succeed as a competitor.  As Christian leaders, we have to love winning – fulfilling God’s will and accomplishing all that He has given us to do.  However, on the other hand, the thought of not fulfilling God’s call to the fullest must sicken us.  And, as a result, we should resolve to know our loving Father, to teach His Word, to live in growing faith, to help others do the same, and to call and send out new leaders when they are ready.  

We shouldn’t be satisfied with just playing the game, unconcerned about losing records.  We have the greatest of prizes ahead of us, and this should compel us to not only live our lives right before the Lord so as to embrace the prize when He comes, but to help others do the same.  If we do, we will help create a winning attitude, an ever-expanding leadership culture that grows the church and populates heaven.    

Let’s Go Deeper and Grow Stronger!     
(and P.S. Go Fighting Falcons in 2016!)

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