When we think of sports, what do we think of? Teamwork. Discipline. Perseverance. But there’s another element we can’t forget: leadership.
What would a team be without its coach? A team without a coach is like an orchestra without a conductor, or a battleship without its captain. Everyone thinks they know best, and by everyone doing what they think is right, the power of the team is lost. We as Americans love our individuality and our independence, but we sometimes forget that if we hadn’t all banded together under one leader (George Washington), we wouldn’t be here with those rights today.
Where do we see leadership in the Bible? Why, everywhere. Moses, a reluctant leader, brings the Israelites out of Egypt. When he doubts his abilities, God gives him his brother Aaron to help, and Aaron and his family become God’s priests. When Moses passes away, Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promised Land. Later, Queen Esther shows leadership by being brave and speaking to the king about her people in order to save them. By doing this, she puts her life at risk, but that’s a part of leadership people sometimes forget: it can come with glory, but it also comes with risk.
If a team isn’t doing well, who gets blamed? The coach. The same happens in the Bible. The Israelites, who we often don’t want to realize are also us, blame Moses or their king very quickly once things don’t go their way.
In one of the most famous scenes in the Bible, the healing of Lazarus, Martha is angry at what she sees as Jesus’s failure in as their leader, but keeps her love of him above all else. In John 11:21-22, Jesus returns to the home to discover Lazarus has passed away. “ ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’”
Jesus then raises Lazarus from the dead.
God wants us to trust in our leaders, unless they are doing something expressly against His commands (like King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel). As an athlete, are you doing things your own way, or are you listening to your coach? Do you think that you should get all the glory? Are you ready for all the risk as well then?
If you feel like God is calling you to leadership, talk about it with your coach. Ask if there’s anything you can do to show you’re worthy of more responsibility. If they say there isn’t anything right now, show leadership in another way: start a Bible study. Offer to help teammates more often. Show initiative. But remember: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) To God be the glory.