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Leadership Lessons from Wimbledon, Part 1

I love to watch Wimbledon and each year I am reminded of lessons we can learn from the field of sports.Tennis-terms

Enjoy the game – I loved watching Dominika Cibulková because she enjoyed
being out on the court. She smiled when she won a point, and smiled when she gave it her best and came up short. Her joy for the game was contagious. She was doing what she loved to do. Leadership is hard and not everything goes our way. Joy is not based on the immediate circumstances, but the realization we are doing what we were meant to do.

The Will Factor.  It takes Skill AND Will. It is a cliché, but none-the-less true. Skill is often not enough to win. Roger Federer played the talented Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. Cilic dominated Federer in most every category and was just a point from winning the match, but Federer made an amazing comeback. The veteran Federer willed the win. He found a way to overcome a skilled and dominant opponent. Will is the desire, grit, perseverance, focus, fortitude, and belief that you can win. The great tennis champions find a way to dig deep into themselves and elevate their game to a new level.

In the spiritual realm, sacred will is having faith in a power beyond yourself that will accomplish great things. Spiritual leadership is more than being competent at various ministry skills; it is praying, “Your will be done, your kingdom come.”

Do the Hard Work of Training.  One of the commentators remarked about the natural abilities of one of the athletes, but added “this player has not done the hard work of training.” Wimbledon is grueling. In order to reach the pinnacle of any sport, players have to do the small hard stuff. For every hour on the court, tennis pros spend hundreds of hours of preparation repeating drills, running, and lifting weights.

To be successful in our spiritual life also requires training. Paul wrote, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. Gary Thomas wrote,

Jesus chased out ignorance, defeated the demonic, and released the ill and oppressed.  In other words, as Jesus walked, hell broke apart at His feet.

Jesus and hell could not occupy the same spot, so wherever Jesus went, hell was dismantled.  Together, Jesus’ life and teaching provides a clear goal—seeing hell break apart at our feet and the coming forth of the kingdom of God.

When our goals reach beyond making it into heaven to a life of ministry and impact here on earth, maturity does matter.  I can be immature and reach heaven.  I’m not sure, however, that I can remain immature and see hell break apart at my feet.  If I am steeped in habitual sin, if I remain a spiritual adolescent, I cannot threaten hell, not while kissing its feet or lusting after its trinkets.

The goal I adopted—see hell break apart at my feet—encourages me to grow, not just for my own sake, but for the sake of others (Gary Thomas,  Seeking the Face of God, p. 29-30)

Spiritual leaders are not born, they are developed. Our mission at Rockbridge is “to develop spiritual leaders for Christian ministry.” Leadership is both a matter of the heart and the hands. There are many good hearted men and women, but they can’t lead because they haven’t done the heart work of training. They can succeed for a while, but eventually their lack of discipline and training becomes their Achilles heel.

Please pray with us that we help men and women become spiritual leaders who are skilled practitioners with extraordinary faith, so they may joyously see hell break apart at their feet.

Donate to Rockbridge

We are so grateful for everyone who has contributed financially to Rockbridge in order for us to help develop spiritual leaders. Your contributions to Rockbridge will help us to keep tuition affordable for our students. This is the end of our fiscal year and your gift of any amount will be used effectively. You can contribute online or send your check to Rockbridge Seminary, 3111 E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65804.

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