This post originally appears on the Canadian Catholic website.
Sidney Crosby. Kobe Bryant. Tom Brady. Derek Jeter.
These four athletes are among the greatest leaders in sports today. They are the undisputed leaders on their respective teams, and they are held in the utmost regard in their home cities. Their teammates would do just about anything for them while their opponents often want nothing to do with them.
I am a very passionate sports fan. Along with my faith, my family, my friends, and my job, the Vancouver Canucks make my “Things I Am Most Passionate About” list. In fact, one of the first things I did upon entering St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the first time (this past March) was film a hockey blog with the Basilica in the background.
I often think about the connection between sports and religion. I’m interested when athletes cross themselves. I like seeing CFL teams gather at midfield to pray after a hard-fought contest. And I find it fascinating that some people can get so zealous – screaming and chanting for 3 hours at an arena or stadium – for their favourite team but show barely a modicum of emotion when it comes to their faith.
Thus, there is also a connection between leadership in sports and discipleship. A simple (yet accurate) definition of a disciple is a “follower of Jesus.” However, I’m convinced that by being a good disciple, we also become leaders – especially when we inspire and encourage others to follow our lead.
That’s what the aforementioned athletes do: they inspire and encourage their teammates to follow their lead. It might be the way they’re the first ones at practice or the last ones to leave. It could be the way they interact with coaches and management. And it’s most certainly how they perform when the pressure is on and when their backs are up against the proverbial wall.
As young Catholics, are we good leaders? Do we inspire, encourage, and affirm others to grow in their faith? Do we set a good example to others by the way we live out our faith? And how do we handle ourselves in the face of adversity?
To become better leaders, we must first become better followers. Sometimes we have in our head that it’s not good to be a follower; that followers are weak and submissive. That we all must be leaders.
But when it comes to Jesus, you will be a leader by being his follower. You will lead by using your gifts to glorify God. By sharing your talents and using them to bring glory to God.
A disciple is one who engages with Jesus as a person and because of that relationship begins to live out the virtues that Jesus talks about. This will require you to be willing to step out in your faith and to do things that you’re not comfortable with. God’s going to put you in certain situations and put people in front of you who need the gospel. With every person you meet you’ll have a chance to be Christ’s disciple.
By following Jesus, you will become a better leader.
Now that’s something to get excited about!
Question: In what ways are you a leader and in what ways are you a follower?