June 11, 1997. Game 5 of the NBA Championships against the Utah Jazz. With a 103 degree fever and “flu like symptoms” requiring IV fluid during the game, Michael Jordan scored 38 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to winning the game, and ultimately the championship.
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 80’s and 90’s, I followed the Bulls to their multiple championships and still believe that MIchael Jordan is the greatest athlete of all time. MJ’s “flu game” is one of my most memorable. I recently read an interesting article about his leadership and mentoring younger teamates (Click here for article). Specifically:
- Under Head Coach Phil Jackson’s encouragment, Jordan transitioned from being a “one man show” to involving others in clutch plays.
- Jordan spent much time with the other players on and off the court to build relationships and trust.
- MJ invested one-on-one time with younger players, mentoring them in the game.
- Jordan became the leader that others wanted to follow, pursuing a common goal.
We are not a one-man or one-woman ministry. We need each other. For too long I’ve had the attitude that when the heat is on in ministry, I’ll do it myself. Jordan did this for years. But like Jordan, we need to learn to pass the ball during clutch situations.
Relationships and trust are essential. We can put together great teaching outlines or create a great ministry strategy, but time must be spent knowing and being known by others. The early church focused on the Word, prayer, and being with one another. We must do the same. Personal “me” time must be sacrificied to build these life-giving relationships. This includes one-on-one mentoring and discipleship.
Be a leader that others want to follow. If we want others to follow Jesus Christ passionately and with their whole hearts- we must set the example. We must also be quick to encourage others and raise the bar in the common goal of loving God and loving others, making Him known to a lost world.
The church will be stronger and more sustainable in the long term by focusing on these three strategies.
While Jordan has struggled off the court with various pursuits and failed relationships, much can be gleaned from his on court intensity and focus.
John Paxson's game winning shot in 1993