Sports have a way of teaching you something that other things cannot. The thing I love most about sports is the story it tells (I want to give this its proper respect, I will write a blog post about this next week). Last night, watching the National Championship game between Texas and Alabama I was struck by a leadership and mentoring lesson. If you happened to catch the game you might know what I am talking about, if you missed the game let me recap what happened. Colt McCoy, the starting Quarterback for the Texas Longhorns suffered what looked to be a shoulder injury that could put him out for a couple of plays, nothing serious. It was the opening drive of the game for Texas, they had just had a big defensive stand and had all the early momentum. That was until McCoy injury was more serious then they thought. While Texas was scoring the first points of the game, their leader was heading off the field in pain and people were wondering what they were going to do. For the rest of the game, the story line developed of how Texas would operate without their leader. It wasn’t until the end of the game did I realize something, moments happen when we are forced to lead.
When I was a junior in high school, our youth group took a trip to Tennessee for a youth conference. I was riding in a church van with the youth minister, his family, and some other students to the conference. About 5 minutes away from Lee University (where the conference was being held) we were involved in a wreck. It was serious enough that when we were hit the van slid around and then turned on its side. It was a very surreal moment, one that happened in slow motion and left you speechless for a moment. You can imagine the youth minister was pretty shaken up by what had just happened. As I was trying to regain a sense of reality, I noticed something, the intern that had only been with us for about a month was stepping in and leading. Not only did he have to deal with the 12 of us in the van, he also had to deal with the 75 students in the bus that wanted to know what had just happened. He quickly springed into action and led the group. He got us registered, everyone to their rooms, and took care of everything. It was one of the first times I had seen someone take the reigns and go. Sometimes, in moments of chaos, followers have to become leaders.
The story line was developing last night as the seconds ticked away in the championship game. A freshmen quarterback, who never probably imagined playing that night, was thrust into a situation and expected to lead his team to victory. As I sat there and watched him struggle to complete a pass I could not help but feel sorry for the guy (well, maybe not, Go Mizzou). One of my dads friends that was over watching the game made an interesting point. He talked about how coaches should give these backups a chance to play every once and a while so that when they are put into situations like these, they have some experience and some practice. Instead they threw this kid of there to the lions and expected him to go all Daniel in the lions den on Alabama.
Here is where I see the Mentoring/Leadership lesson from this game...I wonder how many times we have guys and gals siting on the sidelines, just kind of waiting. Maybe they are waiting for someone to “graduate” and move on, maybe they are waiting for someone to ask them to get into the game? Maybe when they get into the game they have no clue what to do because they have never been shown how. I think we can learn something from that game last night, the importance of influence and preparing others is invaluable. If you do not think so, ask Mac Brown, the coach of the Texas Longhorns, what he has to say about preparing leaders.