Leadership continues to fascinate my mind, and captivate much of my energy. Everyone is gifted and wired differently where some are leaders, and some naturally follow. I can remember a very prideful youth pastor speaking to me once when I was about 12 years of age who informed me, "There are only two types of teenagers: Stupid ones, and Cowards." What he meant was, there were those who would do anything if dared, and those who were too scared to try, so they talked other people into doing their dirty work. While I believe this concept can be accurate to a point...I disagree with limiting this generation to stupidity and cowardliness. Today, I owe that youth pastor a huge thank you. While his statement did eat at me, it challenged my perception and probably is responsible for where I am today.
I grew up living with, and listening to the lectures and messages of my great-grandpa, and grandfather who were at the helm of one of the fastest growing churches in Indianapolis. Whether or not they intentionally did this, I don't know...but they exposed me to different levels of leadership beginning at a very early age. This developed the art of communication, and specifically clarity in my personality, presence, and conversation. After realizing the effect that my confidence had on others, I began to abuse that power. With only a few simple words backed with confidence, I remember talking classmates into several of my different schemes. I remember collecting lost calculators and informing kids that it was more cost effective and responsible for them to lease these items from me, rather than ask their parents to purchase them one.
After witnessing these traits, one very influential leader in my life took me under his wing. The school's athletic director, and Varsity basketball coach decided I was his project. He took me everywhere, we did everything together, he even discussed school decisions with me as if he valued my input. I could spend hours wading through the countless lessons I learned, but one really sticks out in my mind. When the basketball team would fall behind, he would be up on his feet. His face would turn dark red as he communicated his strategy to the players on the court. When the team would win, he would cry. When the team would lose, sorry and sometimes anger would overtake him. I can remember thinking, "WHY?! This is just a game!" But as I examine the most influential leader my high-school ever had....I realize that as he led, he led as if HE had something at stake in those games.
If I were to get Matt Philbrick on the court, there's a good chance I could out-run him, and possibly even outshoot him. He is not the best basketball player in the world. Many of his past team-members could easily take him. His skill in the area he was coaching was not the most important part. So, if the captain of the team possessed more skill than coach himself, why did he listen to the coach? I mean, the coach couldn't even really get out and DEMONSTRATE what he wanted!
Matt knew that in the uncertainty of a game, it was his job to clearly articulate every single move. Where would those moves take the team? Honestly, we had no idea. What we did know is that Matt was going to be crystal clear in every instruction. He had to be clear, because HE was owning the win. To Matt, this wasn't just a game....in that moment, it was life.
Dear Leader, if we are ever going to take our youth groups to the next level, we must clarify and own the win. I want my students to know that when they fail, I feel it. Likewise, when they win, it is as if I was right there with them! When they are going through uncertain times in their lives, I must clearly articulate the Word to provide them with a definite play to take. My students aren't cowards and idiots; They are leaders and followers, and as the leader entrusted to those kids, I want to own the win. I'm tired of discussing "if" my students live for Christ, and I'm ready to discuss HOW. It begins today.