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On the Same Page

On the same page is a term used often in sports. You will hear it in locker rooms before games, yelled from sidelines in various sports, and exclaimed in postgame interviews after wins and loses. And while it is a widely used phrase I think it is scarcely understood. I mean how to you get all the personalities on the same page? As a coach you have all these young people who are still trying to discover who they are, thrust together by a common stressor: results. Everyone brings with them different upbringings, different perspectives, different priorities, and different competitive personalities. When looking at it like this it seems to be an impossible situation. Many have addressed the problem by either eliminating personalities that do not gel with the majority or taking away the common stressor: results. I don’t believe that either of these solutions is ideal. First of all, simply eliminating personalities sends the wrong message- a message of conformity that stifles the creativity of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). When leading my team, my business or my family I cannot take the mindset of, “it is my way or the highway” because what if my way turns out to be wrong? There are a lot of ideas that I think are world changing until I have someone present scenarios in which my idea will clearly fail. If I do not have individuals around me to stretch my ideas and do things outside my norm then I will fail. And so, the simple process of eliminating opposing ideas in not a good leadership strategy. The second solution of eliminating results is equally flawed. Foremost of these flaws is that taking away the results also takes away many opportunities to learn. If I was to ask you, “do you learn more from failure or success?” the majority of you would answer failures. So why would I eliminate the greatest opportunities to learn? Some people will say that you need to have the freedom to fail and that is exactly right, but that doesn’t mean that you eliminate the results of that failure. If I go my whole career thinking that failures are successes then I will never find the process that leads to actual success.

So, what should we do? I think we should look at the way Jesus lead His disciples. Have you ever read the Gospels and asked, “How did Jesus lead His disciples”? Jesus had twelve disciples with twelve different personalities. You have Peter who was passionate and occasionally acted first, thought second! You had James and John who acted in such a way to earn the nickname, “sons of thunder,” but yet still had their mom fighting their battles. Matthew was a tax collector, which guaranteed him to be an outsider. Simon was a zealot and would have very strong feelings against anyone outside of traditional Jewish practices (like a tax collector). Thomas seems to be very introspective and cautious and then Judas even betrayed Him, and that is just to name a few! How did Jesus lead this group of characters?

Here are just a few things that I think we can observe from His leadership.

First, He identified the leaders. Jesus identified Peter, James and John as the three that would step up and lead after His time on earth had passed. Jesus spent time with the twelve but then He would draw Peter, James and John aside and allow them to observe Himself in an even more in depth fashion (ie: transfiguration, Garden of Gethsemane). I believe it is so important to not simply observe talent but to truly identify leadership and train that leadership. That doesn’t mean you are playing favorites and you are giving special privilege but rather, adding special responsibility. We are given an example of this with the parable of the talents in which God requires more from the one to which more is given. It is essential that we identify the leadership qualities in those around us and train them up in those areas.

Second, He lived the example. The greatest leadership training the disciples had was life lived with Jesus. There was no leadership conference that Jesus was leading for the disciples and there was no special curriculum. The curriculum was the life lived with the living Son of God. Jesus walked with the disciples and allowed them access to Himself. If you lead (a team, a business, or your children) they must have access to you! Even though Jesus lived a sinless life and we don’t, I still think one of the greatest benefits to leadership is transparency. Those that you are leading need to know you. I think one of the most powerful moments that I get with my children is when I have to humble myself and apologize to them for a mistake. In those moments it becomes more and more about me leading them on this journey rather than a performance they are trying to live out in front of me. This is an area where we most mimic the disciples because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Just as they lived life with Jesus so do we with the Holy Spirit. This life is not a performance we put on for the Lord, but rather a life lived with His leadership.

Finally, it is about the process. This is probably the part of Jesus’ leadership that amazes me the most. I read the stories of the disciples in the Gospels and I often wonder what Jesus was thinking in the midst of their questions and actions. Most of the time during the three years together it seems like they have no idea what Jesus was there to do. In fact, even at the very end, one of them betrays Him and another denies even knowing Him. After all they had been through and learned they still didn’t get it. But, Jesus knew the process was not complete and His guidance focused far beyond individual successes and failures. Jesus guided in the moment but never lost sight of the fact that they aren’t finished yet. He would soon be leaving the message of salvation in their hands and as you read the Gospels you can tell that He is preparing them for that moment. To me, it is that process that I can most emulate. If I can see past the present then I can begin guiding my team, my business, my family towards that vision as well. This does not mean casting a vision of a future result, although that is a necessary part of the process, but rather fostering an image of their identity found in Jesus. Do I want my team to strive towards a common goal? Yes, but I do not want them to be defined by obtaining that goal. Rather, I want them to strive towards their goals with the freedom that comes through understanding who they are in Christ. That is the process in which I want to be mindful of daily. If I can train in the moment knowing that every lesson is simply part of the journey towards Jesus then all the different personalities and strengths come together in an active and unified Body of Christ. A body that makes mistakes and experience failures but continues to reach forward. That is the picture of, “on the same page” that I want to pursue. And while it is never easy, it is a worthy pursuit.

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