Special Olympics

I’m preaching later this morning about leadership which is a big topic.  I gathered a lot of information, and then as so often happens I realized that I couldn’t use everything.
So, I made some painful choices, which is what a film director must go through to get a project down to 90 minutes or so. I figure I’ve got around 20 minutes which makes my job even harder.

What I plan to say is that the Bible teaches us some counter-intuitive lessons about leadership.  When God chooses a leader for the people of Israel, God chooses the youngest, smallest, scrawniest brother in the Jesse clan.  They didn’t even think to include him in the selection process and only brought him out when the old prophet Samuel asked if there was, maybe, one more son in the family.

For anyone who has ever been too young, too small, too scrawny, this is a good
story.  It reminds us that God sees potential in us that, sometimes, others do not see.

The other thing about leadership that I plan to say is that it is self-sacrificing, like the Good Shepherd in John’s gospel.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  I do my best to follow that Good Shepherd in my personal life, but I wish there were more of them today – in schools, businesses, and churches.

Here’s the part of my sermon for today I had to leave on the cutting-room floor: Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers, is a curious blend of evangelical faith and liberal politics.  She’s got a quirky and irreverent style that isn’t for everyone, but it’s fun and occasionally filled with insight.  Here’s what she writes about leadership:

If I were going to help people with being good leaders, I would say the most important thing you can do is go to the Special Olympics every single year and bring more and more people there, because that is where you’re going to see the kingdom of God.

At the Special Olympics, if someone falls down or spaces out, the others don’t go, “Oh, great – that gives me an edge.”  They go back for him or her and help, and somebody that has been assigned to help helps everybody get going in the right direction again, and they go off together.

Yeah, there is no more joy to be had this side of glory than a morning at the Special Olympics track and field.

Amen to that.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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