I am writing this entry without knowing who will eventually be crowned as Champions at Super Bowl XLVI. As the New England Patriots and the New York Giants prepare for “conflict,” I do think about what I learned about leadership from New England Patriot head coach Bill Belichick.
In Michael Holley’s recent book, War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team, the reader is brought into the draft room and the locker room as preparation for the game. (The subjects of the book expressed displeasure at the title of the book as they did note that playing football is a game.)
The story unfolds similar to The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam (another recommended book) as we see how Bill Belichick went from coach of the declining Cleveland Browns to the ascending New England Patriots.
One of the chapters takes up the question of how could a team like the Patriots take in an individual like Randy Moss who was perceived as selfish and not a team player. And yet, Randy Moss became a Patriot and was a vital teammate in a season where the Patriots came within just one win shy of a perfect season. The key for the transformation of Randy Moss was that Bill Belichick and others sought to develop a locker room atmosphere where players were active participants in “discipling” other players in the Patriot way.
On Super Bowl Sunday morning, I was glad to be a parishioner at the church I helped lead for sixteen years – New Life Christian Reformed Church in New Lenox, Illinois. While I do not want to turn the picture of a church into a football team, I do believe that the church really is the church when active participants “disciple” others in the Jesus way.
What if local church members saw it as their responsibility to encourage hospitality, stewardship and encouragement in one another and fight prejudice, materialism and gossip in the community? What kind of different and better church would result from our not seeing ourselves as “free agents,” but as covenant participants serving God – together?
Maybe we can learn something about church life from the building of a sports team after all.