Tag: plan

Leaders move without the ball

In basketball, there’s a concept that’s vital. And it’s something that’s rarely seen by the person unless they’re watching intently. The casual basketball viewer won’t see it, because the casual viewer watches the ball. The ball is where the action happens. Scoring, passing, steals, and blocks all happen AT the ball.

But what happens away from the ball is often just as important.

image credit: UKSports.com

image credit: UKSports.com


It’s a concept called “moving without the ball.” It’s pretty self-explanatory, but just for the sake of clarity allow me to explain in further details.

Moving without the ball means you move even when you don’t have the ball, with the express purpose of creating the next play, receiving the next pass, gaining the next rebound, or blocking the next shot. IF you don’t move without the ball, you’ll be caught in the wrong position at the wrong time. Or, said more accurately, you won’t be in the right position at the right time if you don’t move when you don’t control the ball.

If you don’t move without the ball

  • You’ll never get open
  • You’ll never score
  • You’ll be out of position when the time is right
  • You won’t be ready to steal
  • You’ll get left behind
  • You’ll constantly be wondering where the action is happening
  • You’ll not be in the action of the game

In a 48 minute game of basketball, the game is dominated by moving without the ball. To a casual observer, the person moving without the ball looks goofy, like they don’t know what they’re doing. Like the game is happening in spite of them. But the casual observer doesn’t know just how important it is to position yourself to be ready.

Moving without the ball isn’t sexy. But it’s vital.

The same is true in ministry.

Moving without the ministry ball

There are times when you, in your role, have “the ball.” These are the busy seasons of ministry, when the spotlight is on. For me, this happens during small group signups and launches. It happens during our church-wide alignments. During these seasons, it’s all-hands-on-deck for our team.

But for the most part, I don’t have the ball. It’s apparent “down time.” And if I don’t move, plan, strategize, recruit, train, and mobilize, when the ball’s passed to me I’ll be caught flat-footed. I’ll be left behind. The infrastructure won’t be ready, the plan won’t be in place, and my heart won’t be in the place it needs to be.

That’s why the casual church observer thinks pastors just work one day/week. Because our “time with the ball” seems like a waste of time. All the casual church observer sees is the time when we’re in the spotlight, highlighting our ministry, getting people into serving and growing, preaching, teaching, and executing. They don’t always realize that executing at the right time in the right way is loaded with lots of “moving without the ball” times.

If I don’t work to prepare myself spiritually, either, I’ll be dead in the water. I’ve got to spend time allowing God to refresh, recharge, and equip me for the work ahead.

That’s why I read books, meet with other pastors, and go to conferences like Re:Group (which is a must-attend event, by the way. To get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the healthiest small groups ministry will help you strategize, and become better in your local context).

Moving without the ball isn’t sexy. But it’s vital.

Strategize, shift, train, recruit, and prepare. Because the ball’s coming your way.


Playing a Jedi mind trick on yourself

image credit: creation swap user Ron Loveday

I’m reading through the whole Bible this year, on the chronological plan via YouVersion. I might have started a little later than you did, but this plan is a great way to read through the entirety of Scripture.

But can I be honest with you?

Sometimes when I read, my eyes gloss over, I finish reading, and I have no idea what I’ve read.

I know, I know…not very holy, right? Not what you’d expect of a pastor. A pastor should 100% internalize every passage…nay, every word. Pastors should read a passage, and instantly be able to explain it using alliteration starting with the letter K. A pastor should read a passage and pretty much have it memorized, able to recall it at just the right time in just the right situation.

I guess I’m not a normal pastor.

Just trying to be honest.

This problem often happens when I read a familiar passage. It feels like I’m not really reading it, my eyes scanning the page like I’d scan a newspaper article I’ve been forced to read. A couple of key words jump out, but the passage feels very little like God’s authoritative, life-giving Word. My scanning eyes wander across the page, but my mind will wanders to other, less important tasks.

The Jedi Mind Trick

So I have decided to trick my mind by introducing the unfamiliar. Instead of reading one of the Bible translations I have read for years (English Standard Version, New Living Translation, New International Version), I’ve started reading the Holman Christian Standard Bible for my daily reading. It’s different enough that I can’t just scan a passage and instantly know what it’s going to say, my scanning habits having to slow down because my mind doesn’t recognize the cadence of the familiar.

Will this work?

Maybe. It’s working so far.

As I read through the book of Genesis, a book I’ve read countless times, it feels fresh again, alive with a renewed sense of beauty. It’s refreshing, my heart and mind approaching each passage as if I’m reading it for the first time. It’s what I needed to do.

Maybe it’s time for you to consider switching translations for your daily reading. Maybe it’s time to trick your mind into doing what you want it to do. Thinking what you want it to think. Meditating on what you want it to meditate on.

Question: What’s your preferred translation?

*image credit: creation swap user Ron Loveday


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