The bases are loaded and our once large lead has disappeared. I call the team to the mound. Lots of mistakes have been made and it looks like my shortstop is crying. I’m looking in the faces of 10 discouraged and disappointed 5 to 7-year-old boys watching their undefeated season disappear due to a few simple missteps.
And because I’m a leader, I must enter into that age-old tradition: the trip to the mound. But in little league you have to have a different approach. I don’t discuss strategy or correct mistakes or complain or get fiery serious about baseball. I tell them a silly joke and then ask my catcher what cartoons he watched this morning. He rambles on about SpongeBob until the umpire breaks us up. We all put our hands into the middle and I tell them that I believe in them. I tell them that they’re great baseball players that have practiced hard. I tell them they are doing fine and they can win this game, so don’t worry. Then we chant “1,2,3 – Bobcats!” They go back to their positions with tears gone and smiles on their faces, believing all things are possible.
Every young leader, no matter their level of giftedness, needs to hear the words, “You are doing great and I believe in you”. One of the first 10 Bible verses I was encouraged to memorize is Hebrews 10:24.
This verse changes my leadership DNA. It drives how I coach, supervise, parent and preach. Encouragement is crucial in a culture that is rife with bullies and naysayers. In my last post, “Keys to Developing Next and Now Generation Leaders”, we unpacked the concept of upcycling or empowering and recognizing the potential of your new leader. In order for potential to be realized Coach Confidence needs to be in the dugout.
In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word encourage means to comfort, to console, to give strength and come alongside. Jesus used this word as another name for the Holy Spirit, Comforter. Building up others is foundational to the Christian faith.
So what are the key principles to communicate to your leaders? They aren’t rocket science or knuckleballs – but they have to be communicated over and over.
Your evangelical mantra should be:
- God called and gifted you to serve Him.
- Setbacks are normal.
- You can and will improve.
- I believe in you! You will do well!
Our foundation for each of these message are sourced in scripture and we must infuse them constantly into the life of a young leader. I often go the the mound of a struggling young leader with 2 Corinthians 12:9. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (ESV) Our roster must be filled with leaders who lean into the strength of Jesus.
But it’s not all affirmation! I hope you’ll join me next post as we coach’em up with correction.
In case you were wondering, we won the game and went on to have an undefeated championship season.