It’s All the Same Game

A few weeks ago I had a really cool day that revealed an amazing truth to me as a leader and Pastor. The staff from both of our campuses took an outing to go see the Rome Braves play the Asheville Tourists in a Single A Minor League Baseball game. Every few months our staff will get out of the building to do something fun together and to celebrate all the amazing things God is doing at our campuses.

 

On this day that outing was a 10am baseball game featuring mostly 18-22 year olds on their quest to make it to the big leagues. Our tickets were up in the 2nd section, but I’ve never attended a ballgame I couldn’t “move down” and find a better seat, so I ended up sitting on the 1st row right behind the visiting team’s on deck circle. It gave me an opportunity to do a little “trash talking” and to take in the game from a very close vantage point.

BransonBaseball

After the game was over we returned to the church to continue our workday. Later that evening I again found myself at a baseball game. This time, though, I wasn’t watching I was coaching. And it wasn’t 18-22 year olds, it was 7-8 year olds. I did a lot less “trash talking” and a lot more encouraging from my even better vantage point on the field.

 

At some point it dawned on me…

 

They were playing the same game.

 

Yes the minor leaguers had more experience and looked a little more polished in their efforts. Yes our 7-8 year old game didn’t offer the same amenities that the minor league stadium had…

 

But the objective was still the same: Throw it, hit it, catch it.

 

Every player all day long was trying to get outs on defense and score runs on offense.

 

In the midst of my day leading my team, preparing my sermons, or planning events if I’m not careful I will look at the bigger church across town. I’ll think about the Pastors I follow on Twitter.

I might be tempted to get frustrated and think “I’m not as good as they are.” “If only I had the budget/building/people/etc they do.”

 

Take pastoring and leading out of the equation, and the process is the same. I look at others and don’t think I measure up or that they are somehow doing things so much better or different than I am.

Author Seth Godin says, (paraphrase) “No matter what business you think you’re in, everyone is actually in the people business.”

This is a great reminder that WHAT you do doesn’t change WHY you do it. 

It doesn’t matter if you Pastor 50 people or 5000 people. It doesn’t matter if you make widgets or sell cars. It’s all the same game. That church that’s bigger than yours is driven by the same motivation yours is: reaching people with the life-giving message of Jesus Christ. That Pastor that has lots of staff members and gets opportunities you can only dream about started with the same desire you started with: reaching people with the life-giving message of Jesus Christ.

Those people you look at and think you’ll never measure up are looking at someone else living with the same insecurities.

Don’t allow yourself to think that just because they look better doing it or you can’t offer the same things they do that somehow they’re playing a different game than you.

 

God created you, just like He created them. God called you, just like He called them.

 

To my 7 year old, his game that night was just as big a deal as the minor league game…you know why? Because it was.

 

And so are you!

How to Get from Here to There

As I write this I’m leaving tomorrow to go on a trip. I know where I’m starting and where I’m heading so it is easy for me to put the information into my GPS. I wish things were that easy as a leader in getting from point A to point B.
Dr Ike Reighard recently came and spoke to our staff and said, “The number 1 job of a leader is to define the present reality.”
I bet if you surveyed a hundred leaders you would get a pretty healthy list of things as their number 1 priority before they said something similar to defining the present reality, but it makes sense doesn’t it?
I can cast all the vision I want and tell everyone where I think we are headed. But if we don’t have a clear understanding of where we are, we don’t have a starting point as we set out for our destination. Let me give you a practical example.
Suppose I’m pastoring a church that averages 50 in attendance on Sunday mornings, but because of “pastor math” I “know” we are a church of 90 people because I can always think of 6-8 families I don’t see on any given Sunday. Now suppose I have a goal of growing our average to 100 people. We don’t need 10 people…we need to double our church! That’s a different endeavor altogether.
I’m doing myself and my team a disservice by attempting to build on a false sense of reality.
Here’s another example that is a current conversation the team I lead is having:
We currently have 2 rotating serving teams on a Sunday to set up, serve and tear down (we are a portable church meeting in a school). In theory one week team “A” serves and the next week team “B” serves. We have set a goal to grow from 2 teams to 3 teams to allow our current volunteers to go from serving 26 times per year to approximately 17 times per year and to create more serving opportunities for people who aren’t involved yet. If we need just shy of 60 people serving on a Sunday “to do church” then we need 60 more people to create our 3rd team, right? Well what we’ve discovered is that we don’t have 2 clearly defined teams. We have a core group who serve on each team, and then they are surrounded on any given week by a number of volunteers who serve one Sunday per month. We really have a team “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D”, and it just so happens that some of our volunteers serve on 2 of those teams each month.
What we found out is that we know where we want to go…we just didn’t know where we were starting. To create the plan of action we had to more clearly define the current reality. When we did, it actually caused us to change where we’re headed, but that’s another post.
So here’s my challenge to you as a leader, or an individual. This week define your present reality. Take a break from looking to the future, casting vision about where you’re headed or setting any new goals for the coming year.
Put words to what you are right now.
Don’t be scared to say that things are as good as you want them to be. You’re not staying here, you’re just here now.
If you’re honest with yourself and with those you lead they’ll respect you. They can see what you see. They know the reality anyway. They’re probably questioning your leadership as you continue to paint a different picture than what they see around them.
Be honest with who you are. Pick out the next destination. Then get to work!