Friday, November 18, 2011

Leadership. Or Not.

I make no secret of the fact that I detest I'm not a fan of the Florida Gators, but there's one former player that I have to admire on several different levels.

Tim Tebow.

He's been glorified, vilified, deified, and denigrated.  Sometimes by the same people.

I read FBC Jax Watchdog almost daily, and today the blogger talked about Tim Tebow.  And leadership.

In a day when leadership from the "White House to the Church house" is sorely lacking, Tebow offers an old but fresh perspective.

I hope my fellow blogger won't mind me lifting these passages from his post:

"There aren't many Christians who have had to endure public criticism like Tim Tebow has. Sure, he has many supporters who love him, but within his chosen profession he has many detractors. Sports writers have criticized him for being so public about his faith, unfairly criticizing him because he prays while he plays, and always mentions Jesus Christ when he gives his post-game conferences.

The criticism has been unrelenting. Criticizing anything and everything. Writers and fans have criticized him personally, his motives in being open about his faith, his stance on abortion, even criticizing he and his mother for a pro-life commercial aired during the Super Bowl. They even criticize how he does his job, his throwing motion, people doubting he even has the basic skills required to be an NFL quarterback...You name it - about his profession, his abilities, his family, and his faith - he has been criticized non-stop.

How does he handle it? Does he complain about his complainers? Does he criticize his criticizers? Does he try to shame the reporters who ask asinine questions?

Does Tim Tebow tell people about how great he is, or how important his "calling" is and how people should respect him? Does he call on other people to stop the criticizers? Is he worried one bit about the criticism?

No way. Never, not one time has Tebow retaliated or complained or criticized his criticizers. He just does his job and he lives out his faith. He has always done it his whole life, and he continues to do it now on a national stage and it just amazes reporters because they've never seen anything like it. A Christian acting like...well, a Christian.

Perfect example of this was last night after he led his team from behind to beat the New York Jets on a last-second 20-yard touchdown run on national TV. He came out to speak to the NFL Network sportscasters after the game. One of the talking heads, Deion Sanders, asked this question:

"Of course these fans in Denver, they love you. But nationally, I've never seen a guy that provokes so much talk, good or bad. What do you feel attributes to that?"

Tebow probably should have asked him "attributes to that"? What does that mean? Instead, Tebow answered:
"You know, I'm not sure, but I know one thing is I am extremely blessed. God has blessed me with so many people that support me, a great family that supports me, great teammates and a coaching staff and that's what I'm focused on."

Then Sanders follows up with this doozy, still saying that Tim "provokes" the criticism:

"Do you feel like it is your throwing motion, is it your faith, what is it that provokes anger or hatred or disdain from some journalists and publicists?"

Tebow simply smiled and answered:
"You know, I'm not sure, something I learned early in college was to not worry about what I can't control, and that is something I can't control. But what I can control is my attitude, my effort, my focus, every single day, and that is what I'm trying to worry about."
Wow. Words of wisdom from a young man that seminary-trained pastors need to learn from. Tebow could have used that question to blast critics, or claim he is attacked for his faith. He could have told Deion Sanders what an absolutely stupid question that is, that he doesn't "provoke" anyone. He could talk about how hurtful it is to his family to have to see him be criticized, and talk about how it makes his job no fun at all.

Tim just fields the questions with a smile, is a nice, polite person, and respectfully answers all questions, even the very stupid ones. Like maybe a Christian would do.

This is what true leaders are made of. Leaders who inspire others to greatness don't pay attention to the critics, they don't portray themselves as victims or martyrs. They just stay focused on the task at hand, they praise their fellow workers, and are grateful for being granted the opportunity to lead. They don't behave as though they have a God-given right to be the leader. They respect everyone, even the critic, and they focus on the positive.

Tim's leadership has caused his team to rally around him. He was named the starter when his team lost 4 of their first 5 games with Kyle Orton as quarterback, and now the team has rallied around their new leader by keeping the games close and allowing Tebow to win them in the end.

Tebow is 4-1 as a starter. Kyle Orton was 1-4 as a starter.

Kyle Orton was the one who was supposed to lead the Broncos this year. He was the one with the training, experience, and credentials. He was the chosen one.

But the real leader has emerged, the one who can inspire his teammates. Now Tebow is the leader of the Broncos and he is grateful for the opportunity, and doesn't take it for granted, and you can bet it won't get to his head. He does nothing but publicly praise his teammates and coaching staff for their hard work.

So pastors, learn from young Tim Tebow. He's a leader. Some of you are crybaby tyrants, demanding respect and love from those you want to lead, and complaining about those who don't succumb to your leadership. You may be in charge, but you won't be a leader who inspires.

Thanks, Tim, for being such a great example."  

Real leadership doesn't have to tout its merits.  Nor do real leaders.

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