Tag Archives: ESPN

5 Ways A Pastor is Like Being an NFL Coach

The Super Bowl is just around the corner, the playoffs are here, and the NFL is dominating the sports world. As I think of the life of an NFL coach, there are many similarities between the life of a pastor and the life of an NFL coach. Here are five examples that may or may not be true in your ministry:nfl-coaches-ownersmtg-belichick

Power Struggle

All too often, the coach and GM do not seem to get along. We saw this in the case of Jim Harbaugh. Why in the world would you fire a coach that led you to 3 straight conference championships and one year removed from a Super Bowl? It makes little sense. But it was the power struggle that forced the hand of the owner.

When a church does not work like the body described in I Corinthians 12, there will be power struggles. Church members holding ministries too tightly and pastors forcing their hand in places where grace was needed… can cause a power struggle. It makes little sense when we all should be reaching for the same goals of reaching the lost and building the faith of believers. Yet, Satan grabs a foothold on the team and causes separation.

Work Long Hours

This is a great article. An inside look at the life of a Super Bowl winning coach, John Harbaugh. NFL coaches work ridiculous hours trying to gain that extra advantage on their opponent and to make their team better.

Many pastors lives are no different. I love this article. Some congregations expects a pastor to fulfill these roles each week, but there just isn’t enough hours on the clock. As a result, pastors are putting in crazy hours to fulfill very high expectations. Am I complaining? No. I find it a privilege to serve my people, but it makes for long hours at times (More so for pastors in senior or lead pastor roles).

Criticism Often Comes From the Fans

You’ve seen it driving down the freeway. Fans have bought billboards asking for their coach to be fired. Have you ever gone on a message board for your team? Goodness, the criticism is ridiculous. Even when the team wins, fans are screaming about how bad the QB or coordinator’s play calls were. Most of the criticism a player or team receives is ironically from its own fans.

Now, I’m hoping there will never be the day where I drive down I-70 and see my picture on a billboard asking for me to be fired by my church. However, the principle is often true. Criticism of pastors often comes from within and from the church members, which the pastor loves and seeks to serve. It’s not a new thing, there was inner conflict all throughout the early church, and it often came from within.

Losing The Turnover Battle

If you are like me, and your NFL team suffers from years of futility, this time of year is not about enjoying the anticipation of a playoff game. But the inevitability of a search for a new head coach. (I have the daunting task of being a Bills fan, so we are usually searching for more than just a coach)

If you are a football fan, you know that the Monday after the season, many coaches receive the pink slip. It’s become so notorious for firings, it has become known as “Black Monday”.   According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, “Going back to the start of this century, there have been 95 head-coaching changes since 2000 — an average of 6.8 per season.” That’s astounding.

So how does this compare to the life of a pastor? Lance Witt, in his book “Replenish” outlines a similar problem. According to his research from various surveys, 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month. John Larue’s article in Christianity Today revealed 23% of pastors had been fired at some point, and 34% of pastors pastor a church where the previous pastor was forced to resign. With only 1 in 10 pastors actually retiring as a pastor, it shows you how much longevity is a challenge.

Rely on Elite Players vs. Developing Role Players

Look at the best teams in football. They typically have great drafts, team players, and key role-players. The teams that rely simply on their star players will never get very far. It has to be a team effort.

It is the same with the church. Have you heard of the 80/20 rule of church? In many churches, 80% of the ministry work comes from 20% of the people. This should not be true. Pastors must disciple and train up volunteers and people to serve.

It seems like discipleship has become a lost art. It should not be like the ugly step-sister of the Great Commission, but should be an integral part of the process. Not only should we go and share the Gospel, but ministry should be about discipling new believers, challenging them to serve, and equipping them to longevity in ministry.


So now what?? Much of what was written was negative about the church. The last thing I would want to do is stop this blog leaving the church in a bad light. Even in the NFL, there are good coaches that consistently lead their teams well and have produced a winning culture.

I’m blessed to be in a church that is led Biblically, and by God’s grace has a culture of love, accountability, and is Gospel-driven.   Although we do not claim to be perfect, by any means, please do not take this article as a venting session of our problems, because that is far from the truth. But the purpose was to shine light on some flaws of the church that we each can do our part in changing.

Here’s what you can do to build up the church. Be in prayer for your pastor.   Encourage him. Support the leaders of the church. Find ways to serve. Don’t allow the church to be like the NFL. Do your part in making the church like the beautiful bride of Jesus Christ.

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6 Reasons LeBron James Story Reminds Me of Jesus

lebron-james2He’s coming home. LeBron James is coming back to Cleveland. A text message saying “He’s back” was on my phone Friday afternoon, and I knew I needed to head to www.espn.com post-haste. I knew right away it was about King James. At first, it was hard to believe. But, it was confirmed, in his own words, “I’m coming home”. He wrote to the people of Cleveland, “sometimes I feel like their son” and “I want to give them hope…I want to inspire them”

Now to the person who doesn’t connect with sports. Those words seem ludicrous to you. Sure, if a war hero said these words, you could understand, but a man who plays a sport. How could one man cause this much headlines from sports pages to national news? How could one man bring hope to an entire city? As if the city was Gotham or Metropolis…not Cleveland.

As a pastor, I could not help but think of another man. These words that are being thrown around about LeBron James were written about another man some 2000 years ago. Before you dismiss this article as cheeky or irreverent, just think of the events of the last 4 days and the phrases that are being thrown around…

Hope. (I Peter 1:3) LeBron said in his letter to Cleveland that he wants to give hope to the city. Hope of what? A gold trophy that most likely will be passed to another team a year later? Hope is a word that should be reserved for what the Savior gives us each day. That even though today is hard, there is hope for tomorrow.

Left Paradise Behind. (Philippians 2:7) My apologies to Cleveland, LeBron just left the sandy beaches of South Beach to come to Cleveland. But this was nothing compared to the place our Savior left. He left heaven to be born in a feeding trough for animals.

2nd Coming. (John 14:1-3) You would think with these types of headlines, and the hoopla surrounding the announcement, we would be talking about the 2nd coming of another man. Nope. We are talking about a basketball player.

Picks His Team. (Luke 5:1-11) LeBron had his pick of where he wanted to play and who he wanted to play with. He essentially picked his team. He even helped his former team pick in the draft, and then left. But instead of choosing the equivalent an all-star point guard and the team with the #1 pick in the draft, we see Jesus choosing guys from the YMCA men’s leagues. He chose guys like you and me, ordinary people, even some outcasts of society, to be on his team.

King. (Revelation 11:15) The King Returns. LeBron is back. King James.   I realize these are nicknames given, but are misused. The King who will return, and take his rightful place on His eternal throne…that will be worth way more than a max contract.

Son. (Luke 19:10) LeBron calls himself a Son of Northeast Ohio, who will come to bring hope and inspiration to his hometown. Jesus called himself the Son of Man. He came to seek and save the lost, and bring hope and inspiration to the world.

You see why now I can’t help but think of a greater Savior, a greater King, a more humble Son. The bigger headline should be reserved for the one that can truly bring hope to all the nations. Jesus.  And although His 2nd coming may be talked about less today, one day it will put everyone on one knee.

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Having a Baby Tutorial (For Men) – 3rd Times a Charm

Let’s take a break from the ministry posts for a second, and talk parenting.  Not to get too personal, but this is my 3rd rodeo in the delivery room.  Using that analogy, I’m the guy that holds the bull, while the rider goes through the pain and is the main attraction.  Did I just call my wife a bull?  I’m in trouble, better stop with the analogies, and go right to the lessons learned in my 3rd child’s birth:

  1. Start working on your reaction time.  Your hand-eye coordination in critical when your wife asks for an ice-chip.  You have very few responsibilities, man, don’t screw this one up!
  2. Watch your “joke count”.  If you’re like me, and you try to be funny when you’re nervous, remember you are in a delivery room, not Rockefeller Center.
  3. Be on call.  That means, let the boss know when you are going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, or nabbing a grape juice from the “community” fridge.  And don’t go too far.  The days of ESPN in the lobby while waiting for the doctor to come out and say “It’s a _____” are LONG GONE.
  4. Take a course in multi-media, if you have to.  Because you very well could be all or at least the majority of these: mobile connection to family, the Facebook Administrator, Twitter Manager, Blog Editor, and Photography coordinator.  You might want to purchase a smart phone, and sync up (this coming from a guy that lost all his contacts a week prior to birth day…thanks Apple!)
  5. Still never gonna get used to what comes out of baby in days #1-3.  If you have not experienced it, I suggest you grab some tar, syrup, and sulfur, mix the ingredients together, and practice changing your first diaper with that smell right up close.
  6. LOVE your wife.  She is the herione, the main character, the main attraction, the headliner…I could keep going, but I think you get the picture. Make sure she feels this way throughout.

Well, there you have it.  I may have repeated some ideas men from previous blogs, but that just means you better take notice.  Feel free to read my previous lessons learned…so you don’t have to learn the hard way.

Other Past Parenting Articles:  Having a Baby Tutorial (For Men) & Parenting Lessons

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All about the Washingtons…

Did a lesson on MONEY last week, and was thinking, maybe I should share with others in ministry how I do my best to save money.  Because, let’s be honest, we could all use some tips in this area since those in ministry aren’t exactly signing contracts like Albert Pujols this winter.  Well, here ya go:

Pastor Jeff’s top 7 Ways to save money:

  1. Water.  Get water at restaurants & you will save hundreds of dollars every year.
  2. Weep.  Weep, because ESPN is a luxury and not a “must have”.
  3. Wait.  My wife is the queen of this.  She finds something she likes, she will wait till it is on sale, and sometimes wait till it is on a better sale.
  4. Walk.  Nope, not saying walk to work.  I’m saying when you go to a clothing store, walk to the back of the store where the clearance rack is and shop there.
  5. Work.  The Bible commands men that you provide for your family.  So if you struggle with laziness now, get rid of it now, because you are required to work the rest of your life because retirement is now fiction for our generation.
  6. Willpower.  You could buy the energy drink now or just drink water.  You could get this now, or wait for the sale.  You could buy the DVD now or wait till it is on the $5 rack.
  7. Whoa.  Some of you buy things to impress people and make them go “Whoa”…stop doing that.
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