By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director, Missionary for Missions Education and Customization, Missions Innovator Specialist (WMU, SBC)
“Go for Broke!” Really? Who wants to go broke? Most of us have been taught to always hold a little something back for a rainy day. Financially, that is very wise advice; in the way in which we live life for Christ…maybe not so wise.
When I was a high school and college student I taught gymnastics at a dance studio. It was a great job with great hours. And more importantly, it paid for my college tuition. When the more advanced students were learning to do a difficult move on the balance beam or an aerial move on the floor I would often say, “Girls, go for broke. If you hold anything back you will get hurt.” If there is one thing I learned in gymnastics it was that principle. Especially when it came to aerial moves. If a gymnast runs down the mat or beam with any reservations at all she will most likely land on her head! A lesson I learned the hard way. Ouch!
The same principles I learned in gymnastics are perhaps some of the best leader helps I have ever learned. As far as that goes they are good skills to put into practice in our spiritual journey as well. Now that summer is already half over many of us are in the midst of fall planning and learning what our new leadership roles will be. Perhaps some of what I learned about leadership through gymnastics can be helpful as you step into leadership this church year and “Go for broke!”
1. Stay Focused. On the balance beam a gymnast must focus on the end of the beam at all times. It is the skill that helps you stay balanced on the beam and it helps you know just how far you can go. What a great principle for a leader! Staying focused on the goal will keep you on the path to the goal. Staying focused prevents falling. It will also help you to know how far you have come and how far you still have to go to accomplish the task.
2. Practice, practice, and more practice. Any gymnast, no matter how skilled, will tell you that their success is only as good as the time committed to practice. Practice tones your body, teaches you what you are doing wrong, what you are doing right, and builds endurance. Leadership requires practice (continual learning) as well. Asking oneself, what is going well? What needs improvement? What can I do better? Learning tones our brain and our skills which in turn builds our endurance for the long haul.
3. Discipline. Without it, a gymnast will fail. Discipline in scheduling time, discipline in setting priorities and, yes, discipline in diet. Leadership requires the same. A good leader will discipline her time, stick to the priority list, and, yes, take care of her health. A balanced and healthy leader can accomplish almost anything.
4. “Go for broke!” When a gymnast hesitates, it is a guarantee they will fail. The best leaders are the ones who are willing to ‘go for broke’; giving her all for the cause of Christ. That kind of commitment is contagious. That kind of leadership will take a team far and will be well worth the cost. After all, our goal is not the blue ribbon or the gold medal. Our goal is leading as many people as possible to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. A goal worthy of “Going for broke!”