Monday, January 11, 2010

Leaders & Cheerleaders

I get a magazine each month called Sharing the Victory which is put out by Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It is a great read with some very inspiring and encouraging articles. This month was no exception.

This month's cover story is about the record-setting quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees. I highly recommend the article.

Les Steckel, FCA's President talked about Brees and the power of encouragement in his Coach's Corner segment of the magazine which I thought I'd share:

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something a little controversial. I think Drew Brees is underpaid.

It’s OK if you disagree with that statement. I think I’m a little biased having coached NFL quarterbacks for so many years and seeing the amount of pressure and scrutiny they endured. Guys like Brees—true leaders in every sense of the word—have a certain kind of pressure on them that most of us will never understand. So, in my opinion, when you find a leader who is able to handle extremely high-pressure and split-second situations with such skill and grace, he (or she) is worth a big price tag.

In my travels, I often get one statement from those I meet: “So, tell me about leadership, Coach.”

As far as leadership in my own life, as a former officer in the United States Marine Corps, I personally follow the 11 leadership principles they teach. Some of those include knowing yourself and seeking self-improvement, setting an example, training your men as a team, and keeping the troops informed. But one other trait I’ve noticed in great leaders—particularly through sports—is that they are also the best cheerleaders.

Watch Drew Brees on the field before a game. He’s out there leading his team in a chant to get them fired up and ready to play. On more than one occasion this season, as you’ll read about in this month’s cover story, the Saints have been down by large margins and Brees has led them to comeback victories. How? By keeping his team encouraged and instilling in them the confidence they needed to rally and win.

“We can be powerful reminders to those around us of God’s power and the fact that He works for our good in all situations.”What a powerful lesson to apply to our lives as we begin 2010. Each of us is called to some form of leadership. Whether that is in our business, our classroom, our home, our sport or our ministry, we all are called to lead and govern in some way, even if it is small. How can we do that in a way that effectively inspires others and shows them the love of Christ? One way is for us to begin taking the words of the Apostle Paul seriously when he says to encourage and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Think about the people in your own life who have inspired and encouraged you through difficult situations. How great and wonderful it is to hear a timely “atta boy” or “you can do it” just when you need it the most. I imagine that all the players in a huddle with Drew Brees feel 10 times more capable of doing their jobs on the field after he has reminded them that they are skillful and talented athletes. As Christians, we can do the same thing for our brothers and sisters by encouraging them with truth from Scripture and by reminding them of who they are in Christ and what He is capable of doing through their trials. We can be powerful reminders to those around us of God’s power and the fact that He works for our good in all situations.

I want to challenge you this month to examine your own leadership skills in the area of encouragement. Try following the example of Drew Brees—one of the most effective Christian leaders in the game of football—and be a cheerleader and encourager for those you lead. Bless them by speaking the powerful truth of Christ into their lives and assuring them that, through His power and strength, they can achieve His great purposes. Who knows? You might find yourself being encouraged in the process.

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