Friday, December 08, 2006

Football, and Pastoral Leadership

In this months New Zealand Soccer Talk there is a really interesting article about Football managers. In England at the moment there are some very new top flight managers who have not gone through the apprentice system, which seems to be an aspect of any career path. Subsequently one of them at least is probably not going to last the season (Gareth Southgate)- because when a club is not playing well the first person to blame is the manager/coach. (I have a friend who used to coach rugby - he said the only thing you can guarantee is that eventually you will be sacked.)
The argument goes that if they went through the apprenticeship system and started by coaching maybe a 4th division team then after 15 years they may be ready for the premiership. so subsequently the belief is that:
(a) You have to earn the right
(b) Better to learn how to fail at the bottom
(c) Experience is more useful than skill, passion or enthusiasm.
There are some problems with this model though and maybe the throw people who show ability in at the deep end is a better model.
(1) Failure does not always cause us to grow, I view failures as opportunities to get it right next time, rather than falling I use the term falling forward - and the momentum can carry you on to succeed.
- "this isn't flying it's falling with style." Quote Buzz Lightyear
While that works for me I realise it does not work for everyone - failure does cripples some people. I suspect then it doesn't matter where on the ladder (so to speak) you are - for many people failure stops them progressing. You can see this time and time again in soccer - BUT also in churches with pastoral leaders - i have come across many who are repeating the same mistakes they have done for years - they haven't learned from them and some never will.. I suspect putting some leaders in at the bottom may well have limited their potential.
(2)Your first position sets the course for every subsequent position. In that the first place you work will often be the biggest teacher, if you start of in a soccer team of has beans and misfits you may never grow beyond that. Same applies to church life - there are not many pastors who have grown their churches through the stages of church growth barriers. Why because the first church they were involved in set the precedent for how they do ministry.
(3) coaching/pastoral ministry is hard and you will be hurt, this is very true. It would seem that in the football fraternity there are many who would seek to protect our Gareth. But does age teach you to better handle criticism??? or does youthful enthusiasm help you overcome criticism?? I think there may be truth in both corners, but criticism is still criticism it hurts whether you are 34 or 64.
(4) The apprentice model isn't biblical, while this has nothing to do with soccer it does have a lot to do with pastoral ministry, and since i reckon Jesus is the model leader I suspect that every one could learn from him.
Now many would say that the model Jesus used was an apprenticeship model where he took followers under his wing and coached them. Well in a way that is true but he also broker the conventions of what the standard religious apprenticeship model of the day was.
Firstly he called them, the model of the day was you beg a teacher to let you follow them.
Secondly he treated them as equals - it was companions not apprentices.
Thirdly he encouraged them to join him in declaring the kingdom, showing people signs of the kingdom - they blew it on the first attempt, but they got it eventually.
Fourthly he told them they would do greater things than he had... Certainly not your standard apprenticeship practice

So is the apprenticeship model of pastoral leadership which is prevalent always the best, lets just say i think it works for some if they can find someone to work under, I spent 4 years under a man who I would consider to be one of the best PL's around, he isn't dynamic, but he listens, he serves and he is a life long learner. I'm grateful for that, but I suspect if i had gone straight into PL I would still have learnt some of these things. Not because i wouldn't make mistakes but because I am teachable, and i also think i demonstrate the qualities that Paul pointed out. As For Gareth well i wish him well, and i think he will be a great coach, probably one of the best - but i don't think he will last the season with Middlesbrough - but hi next club will inherit a diamond in the making. I guess that is what i hope to be in pastoral ministry.

1 Timothy 3:1–7 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.

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