The Classroom for Great Leadership

Brazilian soccer players train in desperate conditions.

Their fields are bumpy and the conditions are far from ideal. All of this is done intentionally regardless of how much the young hopefuls complain. It is not a matter of money or resources available. The Brazilians have taken home the World Cup trophy several times, and players like Pele are legendary.

So why the archaic conditions?

In an article on the Brazilian method of training, the coach said that if these young players could excel in these uneven fields, they will be exemplary on turf that is level and smooth. And if they can go without water for an afternoon’s practice in the hot sun, they will develop into consummate players under the lights. Playing soccer in the stadiums would become, not a task, but something they would execute with ease.

All because of uneven playing fields and training in conditions that were less than ideal.

I have often wondered about the way God used King David. Some years ago, I visited Israel and walked past the Tomb of David. It was bedecked with flowers and wreaths. People were still paying their respects to the greatest king Israel had ever known … 1200 years later!

Where did this all begin?

An Uneven Playing Field

When I have taught in the past, I have used Saul as an example of poor leadership. He exemplifies an insecure leader who spent most of his life defending his territory rather than expanding his influence. His insecurity finally did him in and caused the death of many others.

But let’s rewind the tape a bit to the beginning when Samuel the Prophet was instructed by God to anoint a king.

“When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, ‘This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people’.” –1 Sam. 9:17 NIV

Didn’t God know that Saul would be a bad King? Didn’t He know that David would be forced to flee as a fugitive from his insanity and jealousy? Didn’t He know that Saul’s own fears would bring death to himself and his son, Jonathan?

It wouldn’t be long that the tables would be turned, and David would be King. Soon, the Golden Age of Israel would be ushered in and the lineage of David established. He would still be known today as the greatest king the Jewish people ever knew (besides Jesus, of course.)

God is the greatest coach of all when it comes to building leaders.

Evaluating Our Conditions

Leadersneed to get good at making judgments. If this quality is refined and honed, it is defined asdecisiveness or clear resolve in unraveling tough problems.

But an unguarded strength can become our greatest weakness.

When things don’t go as we had expected, we determine that it is obviously not be the way God did either. We tend to define God the way we define life; that the way we see things should clearly be the way God sees them, too.

What I forget is that I see only as far as I can see. But God, on the other hand, sees eternity. He sees the end from the beginning.

The Classroom of Great Leaders

God knew that part of David’s training would be found in the caves of the desert just as He knew that Joseph’s training would be in the prisons of Egypt. Moses would be taught in the Sinai and Jacob’s classroom had slippery Laban as the instructor for over fourteen years.

The result?

  • David became the greatest king Israel ever had.
  • Joseph became pharaoh and singlehandedly saved Israel from a famine.
  • Moses led two million people.
  • Jacob became the father of the twelve tribes.

Yes, God knew what He was doing.

When circumstances in my life don’t unfold in an orderly manner, I react. After all, shouldn’t I if things that “aren’t right?” I squirm and fuss when I don’t see things clearly, and I limit my faith to my understanding.

Not good.

Regrets or Gratitude?

I look back at the way I was raised. It wasn’t necessarily the best upbringing … a non Christian family, divorce, broken family, failed at two high schools … But looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. These were rough classrooms with tough instructors. But God allowed them to be there because He could see my assignment and my future. He saw what I would need for what He’d assign later on.

Faith is living in advance what you will only understand in reverse.

Leadership and shepherding requires that we learn to live by faith … more sooner than later! God knows what we must develop, what character qualities we will need to cultivate in order to succeed at our assignment that is yet unrevealed at the present.

A Leader’s Prayer

Here’s a leadership prayer that may help us to find courage in the caves and streams in the desert:

Dear Father:

You are all wise. Teach me stay faithful and steady. Help me to trust You. I mean, really trust you. Not after I struggle but before … so I won’t need to unnecessarily struggle. I am not opposed to pain. Just unnecessary pain!

As the days go by, draw me closer so I become less like me, and more like You!

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