LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS
REV. JAY HANSON
It’s officially fall and that means football season – kids are playing on fields at the local Rec. Department, middle schools, and high schools. College football games determine our schedules on the weekends and NFL football fans come to life on Monday nights. No matter what sideline you find yourself on or which set of bleachers you’re cheering from, at some point, you’re either calling for more offense or defense. Along with the offense and defense that’s happening on the field, there’s always a little bit of off-the-field offense and defense as hard core fans engage in good natured ribbing, teasing, and trash talk of their own.
Is the sports field the only place where we play off-the-field offense and defense? I’m afraid not. Taking offense and reacting in defense isn’t just isolated to a season or an activity – this is a year-round sport for most of us! Here’s what happens when we play the game of offense and defense in life:
We perceive someone else’s actions as a personal attack on our comfort, status, reputation, or preferences. Instead of investigating the source, giving the benefit of the doubt, and uncovering the motivation of the other person in order to get to the truth, we jump to conclusions and take offense at the perceived injustice. We feel entitled to react out of anger, annoyance, hurt, and resentfulness.
We sense someone is threatening a value foundational to our understanding or to control something we love. Instead of talking it through to understand the real situation, we begin to protect what’s most important to us and defend against the perceived threat. We muster up all the strength we can gather to maintain the status quo and control what is ours. We feel entitled to exert power and prove we have the will and ability to win the battle.
Both sides of this game are destructive both to us and the people around us. Even though it’s our perception we are justified in our reaction, perception isn’t always reality. When we rush to judgment and quickly respond with offense or defense, there is more at stake than an official’s flag or the loss of a first down.
So how do we prevent ourselves from playing the game of offense and defense in life? Here are a few guiding principles:
- Set aside your ego. “The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.” Proverbs 3:34
When you feel offended or defensive, use this feeling as a trigger to ask yourself, “How is my pride getting in the way of my character?” Ego is a very fragile thing – it becomes overly sensitive by being constantly inflated and deflated. When someone threatens an ego that is either inflated (thinks too highly of itself) or deflated (thinks too lowly of itself), it hurts and reacts with offense or defense.
- Remember who you are and whose you are. “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
We are all sinners saved by grace. The need for His grace is the great equalizer of us all. When we remember who we are (sinners) and whose we are (God’s), we can more freely offer grace to others when they knowingly or unknowingly hurt or threaten us.
- Remember who He calls us to become. “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” 2 Timothy 2:23-24
As church leaders, we are the coaches and culture shapers of our ministry teams. Let’s set the example and create ministry environments where grace is freely given and graciously received.
Jay Hanson, Lead Pastor, and Anne Bosarge, Multi-Campus Director, serve at The Chapel Ministries in Brunswick. They love sharing about the ways God is moving in their church. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com for more information.