Friday, February 12, 2016

Leadership by the Pitch

Over my 30 plus years of ministry, God has taught me much about leadership. Life experiences in the pastorate have brought many lessons, some of which I would like to share with you over the next few weeks.

The first is that I need to lead by the pitch. During my pastorate in Atlanta, I had the privilege of planting a church. Even as I look back, I feel my motives were good. I wanted to reach people for Christ and help them grow in their faith. The church grew rapidly the first five years. However, the area where the church was located began to change, and church growth became more difficult. Being a highly driven person, I placed tremendous pressure on myself to top the successes of the previous years. I began to take greater ownership of “my church.” The once godly motives had turned into a pressure to perform. My joy for ministry was waning.

When God convicted my heart of the error of my way, I relinquished that ownership and began to relax my ambitions. I turned the ownership over to God. I was no longer a slave to success, but the pendulum swung too far—there became a leadership void in the church.

Jesus said, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." (Matthew 16:18)  Paul added, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth." (I Corinthians 3:6) Realizing I had backed away too far, I asked God to define my role as a pastor/leader.  Since only Christ can grow the church, what was to be my part?

God gave me the answer in a most unusual place.  I was reading a newspaper interview with Atlanta Braves pitcher, Greg Maddox.  Maddox was in the midst of winning four consecutive Cy Young awards, as the league's best pitcher.  At the time, he was pitching well but the Braves were not scoring enough runs for him to win consistently.  The reporter asked, "What is the problem?" Maddox’ response was, "It's not up to me to win the game, but to make the right pitches." That was it!  It's not up to me to grow the church, but to obey God and allow Him to use me in a pastoral leadership role. The pressure is not on me to win the game, but to obey Him in each step He desires me to take. I am to work hard and make the pitch the best one I can throw. God calls the pitch, we make it, but He ultimately wins the game. This has been one of the most liberating leadership lessons of my life.

What are the right pitches? They are different for every leader. In upcoming blogs, I will share some pitches that God has led me to make, and the resulting lessons I learned over the years.

I hope you find these helpful.

No comments:

Post a Comment