Last night’s Super Bowl didn’t end like they normally do. The clock was down to one second and both teams thought the game was over. The coach’s handshakes had been given, the teams were talking to each, the Gatorade had been dumped, the press was on the field, etc. Then it happened…the referees started getting everyone back to their benches because there was still one more play to run. The Giants offense and Patriots defense took their place on the field. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was on his sidelines. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was….in the locker room. His team was on the field…and in the face of defeat he was hiding in the locker room like a childish little coward (sorry Bob, but it was true). No one is sure if it was anger, upset, disappointment or just the fact that he may have been a sore loser…but when his team needed him most…their leader(?)…Bill Belichick…was no where to be found (some speculate that he was in hiding secretly videotaping Coughlin’s final offensive call in preparation for next season’s match up).
As a pastor we have to lead everyday. It is easy to lead when everything is going well. When the attendance is growing, giving is increasing, your church’s star is on the rise in the community, baptisms are happening every week and God is blessing every day…leadership is a easy. However, when the whole world comes crashing down around you…that is when the true mark of leadership is found.
It’s easy to cast vision, recruit volunteers and develop leaders when you are winning…but it takes a true leader to stare into the face of defeat and still mount the charge anyway. People are sick of church
leaders losers that bail at the first sign of trouble. They are looking for someone to follow when the chips are down…when the battle is tough…when defeat is a sure thing…yet the leader is still at the helm pushing forward. It is in those moments that people are inspired. motivated and transformed. It is also when God gets the greatest glory!!!
History has shown us that the greatest leaders motivated people to their greatest successes when it looked like all was lost. Whether is was General Douglas MacArthur’s “I shall return” when he was leaving the Philippines right before the Japanese invaded. Or naval commander John Paul Jones’ shouting “I have not yet begun to fight” when asked if he was ready to give up his ship. Or General Anthony McAuliffe’s reply of “nuts” to the Nazi’s invitation to surrender at Bastogne (my personal favorite). All of these men looked into the face of defeat…accepted their roles as leaders…and led their troops to victory. That is the mark of a great leader!!!
It’s Monday morning and the blogs are alive with posts from pastors talking about how great their services were yesterday. However…for some…it was a difficult day…a real battle. Defeat looks eminent…hardship is at hand…struggle is the only constant. It is in those moments that leaders are born. Don’t pull a “Belichick”…don’t run for the locker room. Stay in the game…lead…inspire…motivate…gain ground…do the unexpected…for victory could be just….one second away!!!