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What Your Church Can Learn From the Ohio State Buckeyes

Oh. My. Goodness.

A lot of times, I’m not all that sure it’s great to be from Ohio.  But today is NOT one of those days.

Last night, the Ohio State Buckeyes beat Oregon to win the college football national championship.  Ironically, I am in Dallas for some meetings but wasn’t able to go to the game.

One of the highlights of the game was the winning performance by third-string quarterback Cardale Jones.  Yes, third string.

Cardale was thrust into the spotlight after Ohio State’s main quarterback Braxton Miller was injured before the season began.  Then the team’s backup quarterback, J. T. Barrett broke an ankle in the big game versus Michigan.

Urban Meyer, coach of the buckeyes, after losing his second quarterback (who had filled in with wild success), said this:

“We lost a Heisman candidate today. We’re going to find out if we earn our coaching stripes now. We lost two quarterbacks.”

Herein lies the lesson that every church in America can learn from Ohio State and Coach Urban Meyer:

Second and third-tier players can win championships (when they are coached well).

A few key observations:

1.  When down a man (or two), Meyer looked at it as a challenge.  It was an opportunity to put his coaching and team to the test.

2.  With the proper coaching, third-tier players get to show their potential.

3.  The result was spectacular and unprecedented.

Here are the take-aways for every church leader today:

1.  Every church has third-tier players… people that, if given the opportunity, could step up and shine like real superstars.  You probably have diamonds in your student ministry, your worship ministry, maybe even third-string communicators that would really rip-it-up if given the chance.

2.  Note that these people need to be identified and developed. That is the mark of good leadership.  Coach Meyer not only knew who his second and third string players were, but he had prepared them to take over and lead if need be (and there was a huge need).

3.  I really do believe that God has strategically placed people in every church for reasons like this, but many times they are never used. The biggest reason:  short-sighted leadership that can either not spot the ability; or either don’t know how (or are too lazy) to coach, train, and encourage the second and third string players.

A startling reality: The world would have never seen the full ability of Cardale Jones without the injuries of Braxton Miller and, J. T. Barrett.  And without proper coaching and leadership, Cardale Jones may have choked.

So… how good at you at identifying and leading your second and third-tier people?

My guess is that we could all do better.

But some (probably most) churches in America HAVE NO BENCH.  And it’s not the bench’s fault.

Running the same play Sunday after Sunday is not leadership.  And it will never win games.

Let me put it in more spiritual terms.  We all want to win the race, right?  That’s (hopefully) the real reason we’re doing what we’re doing day in and day out.  My main point is that we all probably have some distance runners that we’re not even using.  Give them the baton, and watch them fly!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment (or two) below…



  • Mark Triplett January 13, 2015 Reply

    Very convicting! My bench is weak and its my fault. I have several 2nd & 3rd stringers on my team right now that could be brought up at least one notch with little effort. And with a little more, all could be starting. I just haven’t “made” time for it yet. Thanks Todd!

  • Todd Rhoades January 13, 2015 Reply

    Thanks, Mark. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the important things we all have to do… and it takes time… real time… to mentor and disciple and train. But when you’re in the pinch, it is time well spent.


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