In the winter of 1347 the Catholic Church faced a crisis unlike any other as the Black Plague arrived in Italy. The plague brought with it an unparalleled outpouring of death and destruction and ushered in the “dark ages” for all of Europe.
It was a time of great human suffering when the Church should have been at her best, providing hope for the sick and dying. But instead the opposite was true, and this time is remembered now not as one where the Church was at her best, but her worst.
I’ve been a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan for as long as I’ve been following the N.F.L. I love the Cowboys so much I spent a Sunday night in December last season at Soldier Field at one of the coldest games in league history just so I could cheer them on (they got shellacked!). Those sixteen weeks of the season from September to January are always my favorites of the year, and win or lose “America’s Team” has provided some of the best entertainment in football, as well as some of the league’s most memorable moments these past few decades.
While I watch the Cowboys mostly for entertainment, I’ve also learned some things from following them. Specifically, Head Coach Jason Garrett has taught me a few things about leadership as I’ve followed his much maligned career. Coach Garrett is not a perfect leader, but he is an excellent one, and the Cowboys management just honored that leadership with a rich contract extension. So without further ado here are the five things I’ve learned about leadership from Coach Garrett.
As a Pastor speaking effectively and winsomely is one of the most important parts of my job. Pastors fill all sorts of roles and wear any number of hats, but the opportunity to weekly stand before the people whom God has entrusted me to lead and present them with God’s Word for their lives is the greatest privilege I can imagine.
One of the most important leadership principles I’ve embraced over the last few years as it relates to preaching is to be continuously developing your greatest gifts. Marcus Buckingham and his team have done some great work that I’ve taken to heart demonstrating how we’re better off focusing on our strengths than our weaknesses. So for me that’s meant continuing to lean into developing as a preacher, an area of my ministry where it would be all too easy to rest on my laurels.
Here I should admit that I’m still just a J.V. preacher who’s only been preaching weekly for the last two years, though I’ve been speaking publicly long before then. But through the time I’ve spent in focused development on this gift over the last few years I’ve uncovered a few simple principles that anyone can embrace to make them a better communicator. So without further ado, here they are.
One of the greatest challenges every leader faces is the temptation of discouragement. Obviously the experience of discouragement is not limited to those in leadership, however leadership with its myriad of responsibilities and life under the microscope of others does have a way of magnifying and multiplying its influence.
If it’s true that leadership multiplies discouragement then I can think of few people who have to deal with it more than the President. Don’t worry, I’m not going political on you. Rather I want to share an amazing story with you about President Theodore Roosevelt’s personal struggle with discouragement, and how it almost kept him from becoming President at all.