One of my favorite movies of all-time is “Remember the Titans”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s based on the true story of an African-American high school football coach (Herman Boone) during his first season with a new team that has recently been racially integrated. It’s a powerful story that deals with all sorts of topics, including: racism, leadership, unity, trust, and attitude.
There are many great scenes in the movie, but my favorite involves Julius, a talented African-American defensive player, and Gerry, a Caucasian defensive player who happens to be the captain. In order to build unity, Coach Boone orders all the players to get to know something about each other personally, and until then, they will practice 3 times a day.
Gerry and Julius don’t like each other, and they definitely don’t trust each other, but they decide to go through with the activity so they can be done with the three-a-day practices. You can read the dialogue below, or if you would rather, you can watch the scene by here:
Gerry: Listen, I ain’t runnin’ any more of these three-a-days, ok?
Julius: Well, what I got to say, you really don’t want to hear ‘cause honesty ain’t too high up on your peoples’ priority list, right?
Gerry: Honesty? You want honesty? All right, honestly, I think you’re nothin’. Nothin’ but a pure waste of God-given talent. You don’t listen to nobody, man. Not even Doc or Boone! Shiver push on the line every time, man. You blow right past ’em! Push ’em! Pull ’em! Do something! You can’t run over everybody in this league, and every time you do, you leave one of your teammates hanging out to dry – me in particular!
Julius: Why should I give a hoot about you, huh? Or anybody else out there? You want to talk about a waste? You the captain, right?
Julius: Captain’s supposed to be the leader, right?
Julius: You got a job?
Gerry: I have a job.
Julius: You been doin’ your job?
Gerry: I’ve been doin’ my job.
Julius: Then why don’t you tell your white buddies to block for Rev better? ‘Cause they have not blocked for him worth a blood nickel, and you know it! Nobody plays! Yourself included! I’m supposed to wear myself out for the team? What team?! No, No. What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna look out for myself, and I’m gonna get mine.
Gerry: See, man? That’s the worst attitude I ever heard.
Julius: Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.
Every time I watch this scene, it gets me to thinking, “How’s my leadership? Is it effective? How do those I lead reflect it back to me?”
Those can be very humbling questions to ask, but to really measure your effectiveness as a leader, you have to look at how it’s reflected by those you lead.
As a Youth Minister, you are the leader, the captain of your Core Team. They look to you for direction, guidance, and inspiration when it comes to leading teens closer to Christ. They want training and clear communication so that they can effectively fulfill their role, and yet, as I talk with Youth Ministers around the country, arguably their biggest frustration is with their Core Team. Perhaps the Core Team isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s the captain.
If you want your Core Team to pray more, you need to lead the way. If you want your Core Team to do better Relational Ministry, you need to lead the way. If you want your Core Team to be trained, you need to lead the way. If you want your Core Team to show up excited and passionate for every Life Night or Edge Night, you need to lead the way.
As this New Year begins, take some time to authentically evaluate your leadership. Where can you grow? What do you need to do better? How is your leadership reflected in your Core Team? Remember, if you want to change the attitude of your Core Team, you first need to start with the captain. After all, attitude reflects leadership.