Glimpse of Grace on a Tee Ball Field

    If you were asked to name a “leader,” who pops into your mind first?  The President?  A CEO? Someone serving on a board with you? A coach? A team captain, the “go to guy” when the game in on the line.
    I have three bookshelves devoted to leadership. The books include those written by business gurus, military leaders, coaches, ministers and a smattering of to motivational speakers.  Frequently I give such books as graduation gifts.
    There are examples of leadership all around us but frequently we don’t recognize it. While watching a grandchild play Tee Ball I was surprised to see the most unlikely of people step forward as the “head-coach-by-default.” He didn’t look the least bit athletic. I imagined him as the kid who was always the last one picked in a P.E. class. Yet, from the very first day of practice, when two other “father/coaches” didn’t know where to begin, he stepped forward and organized the energetic chaotic group of 5 year olds into groups and began teaching the basic skills of the game. At each game he sets the line up and directs the action, always encouraging the kids with grace and humor. Afterwards he thanks every parent for bringing their child and adds a legitimate positive compliment about each player. The kids love him.  As I said, he never struck me as leadership material but, he is.
    I’m not alone in letting appearances throw me off of recognizing leadership.  When God told Samuel to choose from the house of Jesse Israel’s successor to Saul, Samuel was also thrown off course by surface impressions. Samuel stopped by Jesse’s and asked to see his sons. Laying his eyes on the eldest son, Samuel thought to himself, “Surely, this must be the one.”  After all, he looked like a king! But that still small voice of God whispered, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because he is not the one. I do not see as mortals see. I do not look at outward appearances but upon the heart.”  
    And so it went, through each of Jesse’s seven sons, until, a perplexed Samuel asked Jesse if he had any more sons. “Just one,” Jesse replied. “But you wouldn’t be interested in him. He’s the youngest.” Jesse sent for David and as the boy approached Samuel, I imagine that the old prophet agreed with his father’s assessment. David did not have the markings of a leader. But God knew something that no one else knew. God saw something that no one else saw. A king! (I Samuel 16)
    In his book The 360 Degree Leader, John Maxwell noted 99% of all leadership comes not from the top but from the middle of an organization. I think that Jesus understood this when He told His bickering disciples that “Whoever wants to be great among you, must first be a servant.” (Mark 10:43) Leadership is not about title or position. Those things are just facade. Real leadership, God-honoring leadership, springs from the heart.
    In that unlikely Tee Ball coach on a hot July morning I caught a glimpse of grace in the leadership of the most unlikely of people—at least in my eyes. But isn’t that the way God often works?


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