The Long Way is the Short Way
by C.A. Phillips
The crooked heart will not prosper;
the lying tongue tumbles into trouble.
Proverbs 17:20 (NLT)
I recently heard a leader in one of our country’s most prominent churches talk about some painful lessons that she and their staff had learned over the past couple years. They were involved in a situation in which the church had been built around the personality of one man – the Lead Pastor – who had made some poor choices. Ultimately, that pastor’s downfall – and ultimate resignation – became the impetus for the church leadership to come to some painful and sobering revelations.
One of those involved how they would begin to move forward once again without this man as their leader. What would it look like? What would be most important for them to focus on? Would people still want to be a part of their church?
She shared that, instead of focusing on excellence – making sure everything looked and sounded perfect – they would begin to focus on honoring and glorifying God. Instead of trying to appeal to human beings, they would begin to do things that were pleasing to Jesus. One of the first measures they would begin to thread into the DNA of their healing church would be to place an emphasis on discipleship. She explained that for years there was a segment of their staff who pressed to get this done, but that the idea of spending so much time, so much energy, and so many resources on helping people understand their identity in Christ lost out to things that were far less substantive. Things like lights, sound, digital media, cool branding and marketing.
And, then she made this statement: “It turns out that the long way IS the short way.” In terms of leading a church congregation and creating a healthy staff, the hours and finances devoted to implementing a system by which people could grow closer to Christ trumped the shorter, quicker, fancier, slicker methods of getting people in the door. The long way IS the short way.
When it comes to becoming your very best, this very same principal applies. In youth baseball, too many coaches decide that cutting corners is the easiest way to lead their teams. They think, “Why spend all that time working on the proper way to field a ground ball, when we can just give them a ton of reps and get them ready that way?” The same mentality is taken with pitchers, hitters, outfielders. Just give them reps. We can’t “waste” our valuable practice time on teaching kids how to actually play the game the right way. More swings. More grounders. More bullpen time. Forget about fundamentals.
The thing is, the short way IS the long way. When you cut corners as a coach or as a player, or as a mom or as a dad, or as an employee – you sacrifice future growth, of yourself or of those under your leadership. Is it easier to just have your kids come up to take batting practice one at a time, while the rest of the team shags balls? Sure! Is it easier to line kids up at shortstop and second base and just pound ground balls at them over and over? You bet! But, easier isn’t better. Not now, and certainly not in the long run.
No matter your season of life, take some time to think about what you hope to accomplish…but more than that, HOW you hope to accomplish it. Do you just want to “get by” and have some fun and pass the time? Or, do you want to do things the RIGHT WAY, and build something special in the process? Remember, the long way IS the short way!
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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