Learning a New Position to Play in Leadership

if leadership is like a football game, what is the best position for a leader to play? When I began in church leadership, I knew that the position of owner was already taken by God. And that’s how it should be. But what position was God calling me to play?

At first I thought I must be the coach, Ephesians 4 talks about equipping the saints to do the work of ministry, and in some ways I still identify with the position of coach. Still leadership at its best is not only a coach, but a player coach.

As I looked at players on a football team, I was drawn to offense. The goal of offense is not to react to the game, but to proactive — move the ball down the field and score points for your team.

At times leadership feels like a running back, always on the run. Yet one of the worse plays in leadership is an end run, looking for my own path than following the path of a team.

The position of quarterback is not only glamorous, but always gets to touch the ball, is often seen as the MVP of the team. For years I was attracted to this position and as a player coach looked to lead that way.

Then I heard a quote from Lyle Schaller that led me to learn a new position to play in leadership. Instead of a running back or a quarterback, Schaller talked about how leaders at their best (and senior pastors in particular) are like an offensive lineman. My job is to open holes for others to serve.

Such a perspective has not only changed my view of leadership, but also increased my joy. As I am laid out from blocking an oncoming defender and look up to see another carry the ball across the goal line, I am filled with joy. As the attention is off me, and on Christ and His work in people’s lives, I am filled with humility.

In the last few years, my level of excitement in leading has increased as I have sought to follow the promptings of the Spirit (as owner and head coach of the team), and open those Holy Spirit holes to serve, to lead, to transform now and for all eternity

As you look at leadership, what images come to mind that capture your attention to lead and to serve well?


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