How Not To Lead by the NHL Owners and Players

Okay – I’m not a hockey fan. I went to a few DU hockey games in high school and loved it. Amy and I caught a couple of Dallas Stars games because one of her player’s dad could get us free tickets.

But this story is just absolutely fascinating to me in terms of leadership. (This article by Ray Ratto should be required reading.)

If you read this stuff from a leadership perspective, there is a lot to learn. And God help us all (especially those of us in ministry) if we EVER lead like these boneheads did. The sad part is – alot of us do.

Lessons Learned from the NHL:

1. Don’t gamble with something you can’t afford to lose.

Both sides messed this up and they both lost something that no other sports franchise has ever done – an entire season. Hey owners and players – the whole point of your existence is to stage the games. You blew this. At a very expensive cost – fans. You weren’t that popular to start with and now you both have shattered the fan’s trust and loyalty. Both of which are measured by you in dollar signs.

Ministry Application:
Don’t lose sight of my purpose for the sake of getting it done my way. The purpose is to ruin teens with Jesus…not to make sure that it happens exactly the way I want it to. So I can’t lose sight of the long range goal for the sake of short-term justification.

2. Look around you and know when you need to yield.

Players – salary cap. Every league in the world has one. Every player in every one of those leagues are still very rich. That’s the context you are in – deal with it. The deal you got is worse than the one you could have had at the beginning of this.

Owners – revenue sharing. Read the above paragraph. Ya’ll are still screwing this up. Think about it, boys. Everyone does better when we share. Your greed could very well still kill the NHL.

Ministry Application:
I’m in the South, in a very religious context, racism and economic segregation is huge, the ‘church game’ is still being played, and most evaluations are made on appearances.

I would love to be able to go to church and preach in my jean shorts and a Hard Rock T. I think it’s biblical, more relational and I’d be more comfortable.

But it’s not about me. It’s about having enough relational currency with the context I am ministering in to drag them to a place where we think Christ wants to take us. So I’ll settle for jeans and a nice shirt…for now.

3. Don’t be a DONKEY.

Especially when you are going to have to have a long term relationship with each other. Gary Bettman (owners) and Bob Goodenow (players) were absolutely terrible to each other. Bettman did a better job of getting what his clients wanted which is probably going to cost Goodenow his job. Goodenow did a better job of trying to save the season which is costing Bettman popularity points – but probably won’t effect his job.

Makes you wonder how much of this was a personality conflict, doesn’t it?

Ministry Application:
I’m always going to have to deal with people that I am less than enthused about. Always. Guess what? They are equally less enthused about me too. Doesn’t justify acting like a barnyard animal to them, belittling them and intimidating them.

Christ’s call to me is to love them and lifewalk with them through the junk. Not treat them as expendable resources. Of which I have been extremely guilty.

What lessons do you see?

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