If you don’t want to play with the big boys…

Photo by Callan Christiano via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Stay on the porch.

I remember my mom saying this when I was a kid. One of us would come home crying because we got a bloody nose or a scraped knee from playing 2-hand-touch football or 21 in basketball, and she’d just kind of sarcastically say, “If you don’t want to play with the big boys… stay on the porch.” I think she said it with a smile– but the message is still the same.

Getting roughed up is just part of life. When the kids come to ask who wants to play– the wimps stay home and play inside.

The same is true for church leaders today

I’m 34 years old. I’m not getting any younger or more energetic from here on out. Welcome to middle-age, baby.

I know a whole lot of people who work in churches who are about 5 years above or below me. They have all the education and experience they need to lead their churches from the mire they find themselves in. And yet they sit on the porch like little brothers. “I’m not on the board.” Or “I’m not the lead pastor.” Or “I don’t like conflict.

They levy excuses like, “I could never say things like you say and keep my job.” Or “I really admire the stand you take on ____.

If you are 29-39 years old… welcome to the prime time. If no one else is saying it to you, I will: This is your opportunity. Everyone is waiting for you to do something. If you need permission… it’s not going to happen. Make your own permission!

I’m tiring of people who are sitting on the porch, waiting to get in the game, being told that they don’t have quite the correct age or position or rank to do anything significant.

That’s a lie from the mouth of the devil. Wake up! Game on!

Leaders lead people to where they would otherwise not go on their own. Period.

Leaders don’t sit on their hands politely and bide their time waiting for someone in leadership to bestow on them magical powers to lead. They lead. It is who they are more than a position they hold.

In other words, they see that getting your nose bloodied here and there is part of playing with the big boys. That may mean you get fired. So what? That may mean people say mean things about you. So what? That may mean you might have to stand down a group of older men/women in charge. So what?

At least you got fired doing something. It’s better than getting fired for doing nothing.

The power to change things is rarely given to you by sitting back and being patient. Just ask Prince Charles how well that is working for him. Power is taken. Power is awarded. But power is rarely given to really good middle managers.

And the secret is that the people in power are waiting for you to stand up to them and take it. How else will they know you are ready to lead?

Sitting around on your hands and watching the big boys play until you are viewed as old enough is just going to result in your doing nothing another year. Stop sitting in your corner, reading another Christian leadership book, and get in the game.

Your community is dying because of your passivity.

Today is the day. Now is the time. Lace up and get in the game.


10 responses to “If you don’t want to play with the big boys…”

  1. David Grant Avatar
    David Grant

    So post 39 is not prime time any more? I thought 40 was the new 30…

    Come on!

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      You’re already in the game, David. Don’t get blood on the Jones Memorial Carpet, please. 🙂

  2. Jeffrey Greathouse Avatar

    Great post. I loved most if not all of it, but this is what resonated with me today:

    Your community is dying because of your passivity.

    The reason is that at times, I get tired of getting bloodied and think, you know, I will just go sit on the porch: be a yes sir / no sir person and I will just manage / maintain instead of lead / change.

    However, I have to remind myself that I cannot do that because the community is dying.

  3. John Mulholland Avatar

    “Your community is dying because of your passivity.”

    Could you possibly be more offensive or correct?

  4. Brit Windel Avatar

    Am I excluded from this because I’m 26? If so I’ll get back on the porch till its my time 🙂

    Yet again you drive a powerful reminder home that the church is needs to step out… the leaders really need to lead in the face of all the mockers… (sadly most sit in your church)

  5. Lisa Diaz Avatar
    Lisa Diaz

    One of my husbands favorite proverbs (stolen from his father): “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”

  6. sara Avatar

    i’m days away from turning 28 but i read you loud and clear. i will keep pioneering. this post confirms what another pastor had spoken over me earlier this week at a prayer meeting…
    love it!

  7. D. Scott Miller Avatar

    At 53 and no way have I yet to achieve Brett Favre stutus! Great post, Adam, thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Stephen Avatar

    OH WOW oh WOW!

    “Your community is dying because of your passivity”

    That should be the challenge given to every leader, every board, every church member, after every study, service, meeting, or gathering of ANY type.

    And my age is the reverse of yours – 43. I don’t feel “old” – really. Nor do I want to. And my nose, knees, face has been “bloodied” time and again – I’m tired of leadership “leading” toward the comforts and/or expectations of man instead of leading to help those they lead be able to glorify God.

    You just gave me the adrenalin shot I’ve been (unfortunately) waiting on the porch for….

    I”It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

    “Citizenship in a Republic,”
    Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
    Teddy “Bully!” Roosevelt!

    1. adam mclane Avatar

      I love that quote Stephen. Thanks for sharing the inspiration.

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