Cracks in the Top

One observation I’ve made over the years is that one cannot have unity in an organization if there is disunity in the leadership of that organization. I make this observation not to suggest that there is necessarily an intentional fostering of disunity in the body if there is disunity in the head. No, it simply is a reality that if the leadership of an organization is not united, that lack of unity, no matter how skillfully masked, will be reflected as a lack of unity in the organization.

An interesting illustration of this appeared in today’s Orlando Sentinel. Apparently, in the last years of Bobby Bowden’s tenure as the head football coach at Florida State University, there was serious disunity in the coaching staff.

Consider the scene after one practice early in October 2009. Former linebackers’ coach Chuck Amato gathered the media for an impromptu press conference. The reason? Amato wanted to dispute rumblings that he and Fisher had gotten into a fistfight on a plane (or in the team shower).

This is apparently just the extreme of what had been the norm. The result?

In years past Florida State’s divided staff created a divided team. The offense and defense rarely met together and rarely worked together. The locker room was separated by position segments, so that some offensive and defensive players rarely interacted.

That is surprising to me, but not so much when one sees the division at the top.

Gone, now, the article says, are locker room divisions. Why? Fisher’s explanation is that now “… everyone has a common goal and they don’t all think they invented it.”

Unity among the leadership will foster unity in the organization.

Fisher managed this partly by firing three guys and hiring some others. Organizations, such as churches, don’t often have that freedom. So, we have to work for unity.

To that end I highly recommend study and reflection upon this book by Patrick Lencioni: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

I long for churches to have “winning seasons” as much as some long for FSU to have one. May we who lead be those who have “a common goal and they don’t all think they invented it.”

Pastors Are People, Too

As I’ve pointed out before, I write a monthly “church related” column for the local newspaper. I write the column; they write the headline. This time, the headline works.

You can read the column here. However, knowing these things do not stay live for very long, I’ve reproduced it below.

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I know quite a few pastors, being one myself.

Spoiling popular stereotypes, the pastors I know are not money or power hungry. They are not child molesters, sex fiends, or hate mongers.

The pastors I know are just ordinary people who love God and care about others. They are not superheroes or supervillains. Just ordinary.

We laugh and play and we struggle and worry. We wrestle with doubt and we question our calling. We own houses and we wonder how to pay the bills.

We tell jokes and play games. And we make mistakes. Many of them.

We have our favorite sports teams, and we often get our priorities confused. And when we do, we are filled with sorrow.

We don’t know it all. We agonize over how to handle the Bible and how to handle people who are making terrible mistakes. We try to manage prosperity with humility, but more often we wrestle with the self-doubt of failure.

We have families whom we love, but we get angry. We sin against them and have to ask their forgiveness. We are ordinary people.

Most of us pastor small congregations. Our hearts are easily broken. We are hurt when people leave, we laugh and rejoice when people come.

We work six days a week, sometimes more. Some of us work multiple jobs. We make house calls. We will be with you at 3 a.m. if the need calls for it. We will stand with you when some great pain has entered your life. We’ll hold your hand.

And we will fail you. We will forget to call you. We will forget to pay a visit to you in the hospital. We will make decisions that you think are wrong. We will get angry when we shouldn’t. We will be passive when we should make a stand. You will wonder what is wrong with us.

What is wrong with us is that we are ordinary people. We do not breathe purified air. We do not claim a greater measure of God’s favor. In fact, we carry a greater burden of responsibility before him and that weighs heavily on us.

The pastors I know don’t want either pity or special recognition. They will take, however, with great joy, the news that you pray for God’s blessing upon them as they are: mere people with extraordinary responsibility. They will thank you.

Change?

There are few men as respected in college athletics as Michigan State University men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo. Having had the most successful run of any coach in school history, one could imagine that Coach Izzo could have his way with just about anything at MSU.

Apparently not so.

Recently word leaked out that he was working with the university president and with Nike to develop a consistent design for a school logo, which had not been consistent for many decades.

The picture here details the suggested changes – the old logo on the left, and the new one on the right. I can hardly see the differences.


For this Coach Izzo has endured a surprising level of criticism. One would think that he had suggested moving the school to Ann Arbor or Columbus judging from the uproar.

I guess when your team is 19-3 overall, 9-0 against the eleven (!) teams of the Big Ten, and ranked fifth in the country, as a fan there is little left to grumble about. So, you pick on the logo.

The church, it seems, is not the only institution resistant to change.

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As a footnote, many years ago, some progressive folk suggested a logo for the PCA. The one favored and put before the General Assembly showed a simple dove form with a single eye over top of an open Bible. I remember Dr. Ed Clowney saying it looked like a bird that had been shot in the head crashing into a book. He was right.

The PCA still has no logo.

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UPDATE: After Tuesday’s shelaccing at the hands of Wisconsin, MSU’s record now stands at 19-4 and 9-1. And I should add that I’ve always preferred the ‘Block S’ logo, but apparently that will be phased out. Bummer.