One of my favorite movies from the early 90’s is called A League of Their Own. If you haven’t seen it, you should—I mean, Madonna is in it. Anyway, there is a really great line in this movie that I have adopted. At one point [fictional] baseball legend Jimmy Dugan is talking to rookie Dottie Hinson. She is quitting baseball, because “it just got too hard.” And he hits her with this:
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.”
Well, Jimmy was talking about baseball here, but I’ve learned that that line applies to leadership too. It’s stinking hard sometimes. Sometimes I can’t see the way ahead, and yet…my leaders are looking to me to know what is coming next. Sometimes I walk into a coffee shop wanting to just order coffee, but I see someone I know who needs me to smile and chat and ask about their kids. Sometimes I don’t want to have to remember to bring the coffee creamer to our gathering, because the non-dairy stuff is crap and we don’t have a fridge in our meeting space yet. Sometimes I want to ditch the missional community meeting I’m supposed to be leading and take a bath because, looky there—I have kid vomit on my shirt.
And I haven’t even touched the really hard stuff. You know, the betrayal. The investment put into folks over and over who will leave, and may not even appreciate the time and effort. The people you believe in who, well, prove you wrong. Those days when you sit down and hear about how someone has utterly failed in his walk with God, how she just doesn’t want to be your friend anymore, how you aren’t really the pastor they were looking for.
Those are the days I think of Jimmy Dugan’s words and am actually encouraged. You know what? Leadership isn’t supposed to be easy. It is stinking hard sometimes.
But remember, there is something about the struggle that makes the victory that much sweeter. There is something about those days when the young adult lectures you about your failings, that makes the day she tells you she loves you and wouldn’t be where she is today, much, much more fulfilling. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it.
It’s the hard that makes it great.
Friends, there is an Enemy out there who wants to hold us down, who wants to discourage us and bury us in the injustice of it all. On some days he can’t touch us, but on others…those whining, whimpering words from Self-Pity sound pretty darn accurate. On those days, remember that it’s not supposed to be easy. But it is so rewarding. It is so unbelievably rewarding to see those folks fly, to see them take off and soar in some area that they never would have even been aware of, much less empowered in, without someone investing in them.
Leadership is not always easy, but it eventually pays off. Be encouraged, because the world would be a much, much different place without your leadership.