Friday, June 1, 2012

Team Leadership Texas-style

As the San Antonio Spurs dominate their way into the NBA finals yet again, J. A. Adande of ESPN rightfully recognizes that this silver and black dynasty can be traced back to one man, David Robinson (great article here).

Certainly, head coach Greg Popovich deserves a lot of credit for keeping the ball rolling in San Antonio, but Pop came to town a half dozen years after the Admiral was already on deck. As Adande points out, Robinson was not about Robinson; he was about the Spurs and their winning ball games and titles. He took whatever role on offense or defense that was required to bring success to the Alamo City. Until Tim Duncan arrived in town, Robinson towered over everyone on the court not just in altitude but in basketball skills. Typically when a newbie superstar enters the forum of an established superstar, unpleasant fireworks ensue.  Not so in San Anton. Adande writes,
"Robinson already had a Most Valuable Player trophy on the shelf, with seven trips to the All-Star Game and two Olympic gold medals. He'd led the league in scoring and blocked shots and was the defensive player of the year by the time Duncan arrived via lottery luck in 1997. But by Duncan's second season, he was the team's top scorer and the MVP of the NBA Finals the Spurs won in 1999.
"Robinson was a willing accomplice in Duncan's takeover."
Now, Tim Duncan has taken the torch from Mr. Robinson and passed it to Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker. The Spurs are crushing other teams because, as Popovich notes he hasn't had to deal with "stars' egos." Pop says, "I dealt with grown-ups, who had character and prioritization already set in their lives and their values, that sort of thing."  Thank you, David Robinson for setting that table.

So what does this have to do with being a husband? Selfless leadership, brother.

Mister Robinson never cared about glory. He didn't care about who got the attention but would do what needed to be done to elevate the team. Robinson said,
"If we can win games, everybody's going to be happy. For me, when Tim came, the very first thing I told him was, 'I'm going to put you in a position where you can succeed. Period. That's it. If you're a better scorer than me, I'll put you down on the block, you score. I don't care. I can do other things.'"
He didn't feel control slipping away. He didn't feel threatened because others were better at, or at least equal to, something than he was. There was only delight at the success of the team.

Really, this is the heart of servant leadership.  It's the heart of the husband's section of Ephesians 5.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
The husband laying himself down for the wife that ultimately a better thing will result. The husband gets the wife back more beautiful, more complete than ever he could have imagined.  So how do we flesh this out?  A few thoughts, not exhaustive:

1. Don't worry about who gets the credit. Yes, the Bible delineates the role of the husband and the role of the wife. It even discusses aspects of those roles, but it is silent on many counts. A classic example is finances. Who keeps the books in the house? Who cares?! If she's better at crunching numbers and it makes her giddy to do it, let her do it. When she finds a way for us to get a couple hundred bucks back in taxes, do I brood because I didn't find it or do I cheer that she just provided a blessing to our family.

2. Solicit her opinion. "But I'm the leader!" Well, sir, you will crash and burn. It's a dopey leader that seeks no counsel, that bounces no thoughts, that simply drops the completed plan on the bride asking "So what do you think?" Really, you do not care what she thinks because the plan is formulated. She will see this and know this. Had you truly wanted her opinion, the time to ask is before the contractor starts ripping out the walls.

3. Let her run. She's got interest and energy in areas you don't understand. So why squash that? She has ideas to landscape the backyard and you like yard work. Talk about a marriage made in heaven. Let her plan and procure and point. You get to lean on the spade and throw the dirt. Does this mean you are no longer the husband? Of course not!

A quick example. While flying F-16's, there were times the squadron commander and even the wing commander were positioned as the wingman and not the flight lead on a particular mission. Did they cede command of their organization at that time? Of course not. This was a single mission. The opportunity proved a boon for the flight lead and gave the commander a great look at his people.

4. Thicken your skin. We must get over ourselves. None of us is perfect. There is one Jesus Christ, and we're not him. You will make mistakes. You will even sin against your family. Guess who's going to see it with amazing clarity? Yep, your woman. Who better to confront you? Yep, your woman. She loves you and cares about you and wants the best for you. So when she shares your buffoonery with you, please don't get your knickers in a junior high school-sized wad and start pouting because she's not respecting you as the leader. Pah! No, she loves you as the leader or she wouldn't trouble herself by risking such a response. Her desire, hopefully, is to help you be a better leader in your home.

5. Go the extra mile. Athletic leaders are typically the guys first to the practice field and last off. They're first in the locker room on game day and last out. No, this doesn't mean your first in the bed and last out. Consider the spiritual realm. If you are going to lead your family before Almighty God, don't you think it would be good for you to know him well? Shouldn't you have an intimate relationship with God that goes beyond any earthly relationship you have? Should you not feed insatiably upon his word? Should you not wrestle non-stop before the throne of God above in prayer for her, for your kids, for your church, for your country, for your co-workers and neighbors?

6. Check her six. Makes me smile even to write that. In flying vernacular, "checking-six" means to look behind your flight lead or wingman to see if there are any bad guys in the area that they cannot see themselves. Simply, protect her from bad guys. This might be in the physical realm (yes, I conceal-carry). Is your home secure? Is her car in working order? But you must also protect her in the spiritual realm. Again, prayer. What are you allowing into your home? There was a day when evil would have to get through the front door. Now it can seep through the laptop or the TV, the iPod or the Redbox.

7. Give her a pat on the--well, you know. It's a jock thing, the keep-on-keepin'-on shwack on the keister. Literal or not, I leave that up to you, but these are discouraging times and discouraging days. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to "encourage the faint-hearted" (1 Thessalonians 5:14). How much more should a husband bless his wife with his words.

Do you think it required hard work for David Robinson to become a hall-of-fame NBA center? Do you think the reward, the success, was worth it? Brothers, consider the outcome of our efforts if we invest deeply in our marriages. Let's not lead as iron-fisted dictators in our home. Consider the example of David Robinson. Consider the example of Christ.

And as we do, let's enjoy the journey and the rewards that come when we love our wives.

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