The highlight of the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona was the assembling of the most dominating basketball team in international history: the USA “Dream Team.” They won their games by an average of 44 points, they never called a timeout, their hardest games were their practice scrimmages, the leading scorer was Charles Barkley, and the roster had 10 of the 50 greatest NBA players. I was 10 when this all happened and got to watch most of the games, and was in awe of what I got to watch. The USA had reclaimed the gold medal in basketball, and had cemented itself as the benchmark program in FIBA. Fast forward to 2004 in Greece. The USA finished with the bronze medal, losing 3 games in the tournament. For perspective, in the modern Olympics since basketball was a medal sport (1936), the USA had lost 2 games total. What happened? I would say that this is what happens when a team isn’t a team.
Here’s a comparison of the 1992, 2004, and 2012 teams on perhaps the best statistic to monitor an effective team: assists to turnovers. In 1992, the team averaged 32.4 assists and only 9 turnovers. In 2004 that number had changed to 15.2 assists and 14.5 turnovers. In 2012, the team averaged 25.1 assists and 2.4 turnovers. The 2004 squad was a roster full of talented players, but many of them had reputations around the NBA for being “me first” guys - Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Carmelo Anthony, and Lamar Odom. Meanwhile, the 1992 and 2012 teams were marked by guys who had reputations for being team-first players, and was grounded in solid leadership with LeBron, D-Wade, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. The 2004 team was absent of any solid, vocal, trusted leadership - Tim Duncan is the rock of fundamentals and team play but is not known for being a vocal leader.
What lessons can we take from this for the local church and especially on the ministry staff as a team? I believe there are four:
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.