Leadership Lessons From a Football Movie and a Book

When the Game Stands Tall has hit the movie theaters. Opening night, August 22, was our Friday night date, and I couldn't have been more excited. Why? Football is upon us people, and #realwomenlovefootball!

The movie is based on a true story about a Concord, California High School football coach, Bob Ladouceur, of the Del La Salle Spartans, and is played by Jim Caviezel (who also played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, and John, one of the main characters on the hit television show, Person of Interest).  

After the Spartans lost a game which broke their 151game-winning streak, Coach Bob was determined to get his team back on track again, but not with fancy tactics, or by degrading the team. He stayed with his strategy which had worked for 151 games straight. Even after a heart attack and some setbacks in his personal life, from which he learned some lessons, he stayed the course. Love and Brotherhood were the bottom line with God at the center.

It was all about the team being unified and working together toward one common goal, and never about the individual. He was not just a football coach for these boys, he was a life coach as well; encouraging them to rise above whatever hardships they faced. Every. Single. Day.  Life lessons in this movie, as well as leadership lessons, were exuded through the life of this coach, and they easily parallel lessons for Church leadership today.

How we respond to each piece of reality in our lives, good or bad, reveals our character and our convictions - who we really are and what we truly believe deep down to our core. A real leader leads with conviction. He or she doesn't waver on their core beliefs, no matter what. Our core beliefs define who we are.

As Christian leaders, we must know what we believe, communicate it well, and lead with conviction. We need to see our lives through the prism of God's sovereignty. If not, we'll misunderstand many of the truths He desires to teach us in His Word, and how to live out of these truths which build character (His character) in us.

I'm reading a book on Leadership called, The Conviction to Lead; 25 Principles for Leadership That Matter by Dr. Albert Mohler. At age 33, Dr. Mohler was the youngest ever to be called to serve as President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Now, 20 or so years later, he has put into a book what it takes to lead an organization and lead it well with conviction. I would recommend this book to anyone who is in any type of leadership position.

Coach Ladouceur was the epitome of many of these 25 principles. And though he probably never read the book, I watched him, throughout the movie, lead with conviction, and I knew his strategy from the get-go. He never wavered. He knew what worked, what was true, and he led others to believe them too. He led young men into adulthood with values, principles, and conviction. Very impressive.

I, too, want to be this kind of leader.

Our job as Christian leaders, men and women, is to lead others into adulthood in their Christian faith. It's teaching them to know God and to make Him known. This process is called discipleship; helping others to fall deeply in love with the Savior through the teaching/preaching the Word, Biblical principles and values to live by, which lead to deep convictions. Then teach them how to teach others to do the same...all encompassed with Love and Brotherhood (Sisterhood) at the core.

Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, "Love others as much as you love yourself."(Matthew 22:37-39 Contemporary English Version) 

So what really matters? The local churches we're called to lead, or be leaders in, should first be about loving God and loving each other. This is how the world knows that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Then, growing the fellowship to be fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ as they reach the masses. God's Word is very clear about what points people to Christ - preaching the Word well and loving one another. This is what Christian leadership should be about; leading well with conviction and love.

Calling all leaders! Go see the movie, and read the book! See what you can learn and apply to your leadership skills, all for the glory of Jesus Christ!

No one can lead with perfection, but we can all lead well with "perfect effort". (adapted from Coach Ladouceur)

My Pleasure,