United Methodist Leadership and Football

Whether you are a Blue Hose, Paladin, Bulldog, or Terrier fan, you have got to admit that Clemson and South Carolina’s football teams have made dramatic improvements over the past several years. Why? The players are much the same, so what’s different? Both schools have lost a few headliners as specialists, but the big difference to me is in the coaching staffs. South Carolina has added John Butler as Special Teams Coordinator and Shawn Elliott as Offensive Line Coach. Clemson has added Chad Morris as Offensive Coordinator. All three of these are known to have proven success, vision and the ability to articulate it so that their players are motivated and enthused. Both teams are in the top 25 and are 4-0!

Leadership matters whether we’re talking about college football or the church. Lay and clergy leadership from bishops to the pew is so very important. It’s more than just showing up! It’s having expertise for sure, but in my mind it’s mostly about relationships whether with coaches and players, bishops and the annual conference, or clergy and local churches. Leadership has to be real, relational, and relevant.

Take Bishop Francis Asbury, for instance. I’ve been reading John Wigger’s biography of Asbury, American Saint, and I’ve noticed that Asbury wasn’t known for his preaching but for his time spent with people. African-American Harry Hoosier was the better preacher and got a better response than Asbury. What Asbury did well was stay in people’s homes and share the Gospel in authentic relational ways. He was a great story-teller and he met people where they were. This is one reason why, up and down the eastern seaboard, there are homes with Bishop’s chairs, Bishop’s rooms, and Bishop’s tables in them. People remembered him for his presence in their homes and their lives.

Wouldn’t it be great if coaches and current church leaders had that kind of feel for people’s pulses? Talking about being relevant! It would take motivation to a new level, wouldn’t it? Charles Schwab, former president of U.S. Steel, had a mill manager whose men were not producing their quota of work. “How is it,” Schwab asked, “That a man as capable as you cannot make this shift turn out its quota?” “I don’t know,” the manager replied. “I have coaxed the men, pushed them, but nothing seems to work. They just will not produce.”

This conversation took place at the end of the shift, just before the night shift came on. “Give me a piece of chalk,” Schwab said. Then, turning to the nearest worker, he inquired, “How many turns of the furnace did your shift produce today?” “Six,” he said. Without another word Schwab chalked a big figure “6” on the floor, and he walked away. When the night shift came in, they saw the big “6” and asked what it meant. “The boss was here today,” the day shift said. “He asked us how many turns we made, and chalked it on the floor.” The night crew talked among themselves, “We can do just as good a job as those guys, even better!” The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again and noticed that the night shift had rubbed out the “6” and replaced it with a big “7.” That inspired the day shift not to let up, so by the end of the day they left behind an impressive “10” for everyone to see.

Shortly, the mill which had been lagging way behind in steel production was turning out more work than any other company plant. Without yelling a word or making any threats Schwab had made his point. He said, “The way to get things done is to stimulate a desire to excel.” Good coaches inspire others to dream big and get the job done. My hat’s off to Clemson and U.S.C. Would Jesus “tip his hat” for us as church leaders? One has to be real, relevant, and relational!

Questions:

What is your dream?

Is it God’s dream for you?

What is your strategy to fulfil your dream?

How do you connect with people?

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3 thoughts on “United Methodist Leadership and Football

  1. Great stories. Thank you for sharing them.

    I wonder why so many of us in the church do not share that drive to excel on behalf of the Lord?

    1. Amen! I think it’s just too easy to do the minimum as individuals and as a church. This is so sad when there is so much to do, so many people who are yearning for meaning, and we’re want to just get by. No football coach wants to just get by. They are motivated!

  2. Thank you for sharing . I thank God he does not give up on us. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to come out of the stands and stop being a fan. It is so much more fun being on the field and being a player on his team.
    Walk with Christ,
    Bob Lockey

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