Those who watched the national championship game last night witnessed something amazing. After losing Colt McCoy just minutes into the game, it seemed all hope of winning the the championship with gone for Texas. However, after halftime, Texas came back and it really looked like they might cook up an underdog story that would go down in the history books. Watching the game, as frustrating as it was, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the implications for leadership and ministry that I was seeing demonstrated on a national stage.

  1. You’re only as good as your team is deep.  When Colt McCoy was out, Garret Gilbert was in. Once Gilbert was quarterback, the playing level of the team was knocked down several pegs. I remember watching in frustration and yelling at the TV, “Seriously Texas, is this all we’ve got? McCoy and Gilbert? Nobody in-between?” In one press interview, Gilbert said that he constantly told himself that he was only one play away from being the quarterback for Texas. When it comes to our ministry, it’s no different. Oftentimes we have a strong ministry front, but we may only be one volunteer away from operating at a much lower level. Jonathan Cliff illustrates this point in his post about the “One Man Ministry.” Too often the children’s pastor is the star quarterback and once he or she is gone, so is the program. The game last night can serve as a great warning of what will be if we are not prepared.
  2. Teams can do amazing things when they rally together. By the end of the half, Texas was getting bulldozed by Alabama. Ingram was unstoppable and every time Texas got the ball, Gilbert couldn’t get a first down. It looked like a done deal for Texas. My heart truly broke for Gilbert. I imagined myself in his shoes. I think the mental/emotional stress and pressure would be debilitating. He was forced to play at a level he was not prepared for and he was being crushed, all on a national stage. However, what I saw was amazing. His team rallied around him. You couldn’t hear the words being said, but you could tell they were encouraging and supporting this freshman quarterback, even after their efforts were looking helpless. By the second half, the team adapted to their weakness and a little more confident Gilbert starting playing at a different level. Amazingly, this team being led by an inexperienced freshman quarterback started giving Alabama a run for its money. When it comes to our ministries, are we rallying around our weaknesses and adapting our game so we can play a a whole new level? Do we recognize what our weaknesses or simply ignoring them? Too often I’ve seen teams ignore a weaker “player.” Everyone knows they’re struggling, but no one talks about it. That would be awkward. I think the reason why this happens is because a ministry team that’s losing isn’t as obvious as a football team who’s losings. One team player can see success in his/her area and feel like he/she is playing his/her best game, yet the ministry as a whole is losing. We’re playing to win the game, not just have the best kicking team. A good team has to figure out how to rally around each other and adjust for weakness so the team can win.
  3. Opportunity is found in some of the worst circumstances. Forget that this situation could have been avoided if Texas had a more experienced backup quarterback. Leading up to the game, there was a lot of trash talk. When McCoy was injured, the talk nearly came to an end. Then as Texas began to rally in the second half, I think everyone sobered up, both fans of Texas and Alabama. What was this team capable of? When the game was done, the thing heard over and over from Alabama was how well Texas played considering their circumstances. In the midst of a disaster, the Texas team defined what kind of team they were and how hard they could fight for something. Probably even more amazing was Gilbert’s exposure. Although Gilbert was likely being groomed to replace McCoy in nine months, Texas fans around the county have declared him their future quarterback. Gilbert came out a hero. In ministry, opportunity lies in the crisis. The way we respond and the way we step up not only defines who we are as a team, but provides the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of those we lead.

I’ve got more thoughts about this game, but maybe in another post. It was rich with leadership nuggets. Thanks for a great game Texas!