Today marks the final day of the regular season for Major League Baseball, and some of baseball’s top teams (most notably the reigning World Series champs, the San Francisco Giants) will be heading home after today’s games are finished—missing the playoffs. The Arizona Diamondbacks will not be joining them, however, having won the National League West for the first time since 2007. With manager Kirk Gibson leading the way, the D’backs bolted out of nowhere to run away with the division. It is always good to see new blood in the postseason, and this year—with good starting pitching—Arizona has a chance to make some noise as the playoffs get underway. The journey began in spring training as Gibson preached a very simple formula for success (focus on the fundamentals), and, as the players bought into it, that success began to occur. Gibson was always a team leader as a player, playing hard and giving his all, so it is no surprise to see him succeeding as a manager. It’s amazing what strong leadership can do to improve a situation.
As followers of Christ, our Lord is the head of the church and the ultimate leader. Within the life of the church, however, are those who have been called and gifted to lead, and Paul models for us the fact that the primary element of spiritual leadership is example—the right example. He told the church at Corinth: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Spiritual leaders can only set the right example by following the right example. It is only to the degree that a leader is following Christ that they should be followed. But when, by grace, a church’s leaders are faithful in following and modeling Christ, great things can be accomplished in a local fellowship.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain