PJ Fleck is one of the hottest up and coming football coaches in the nation. He is characterized by energy and positive momentum. He has a fun-loving, competitive and driven Type A personality. He is a people person and a very ordered and detailed guy. This unique combination makes him excellent in his role as CEO of the University of Minnesota football program.
Coach Fleck expects much from his players. He sets the bar high in how he himself prepares and the energy that he brings. His players respond. He just finished his first season at Minnesota and although the record was not what he would have hoped, there was reason to be hopeful. His last stop yielded great success and a group of guys that would die for each other and him.
ESPN ran a program this fall called “Being PJ Fleck”. A reality show or documentary that followed him around through spring and summer. The show was a testament to his impact and contagious behavior. As I watched an episode, I heard him make a statement that is the key to it all. PJ said, “Leaders will always lead, but great leaders love.” He went on to say in expanded form, “they love others; they love what they do and love where they are, because they love the people”.
What Coach shared is a biblical principle. He is influential in a person’s life, because he first loves them. I immediately think that the most important person in my life has influence on me, because he first loved me. 1 John 4:19-21 (ESV) says, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” John 13:35 (ESV) “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The greatest leader in the history of the world is Jesus. In fact, he is the most discussed, written about, and influential person in history. He was impartial in his love - the outcast prostitute, the leper forced to live in a cave, the crippled beggar, the lowly fisherman, the cheating tax collector, the children that he called to his lap and the women who cared for he and his disciples; all were impacted by his love. He was able to lead them, because they were drawn to his love for them. They walked together and invested in others, because Jesus had done the same with them. He valued them by loving them and changed the story around their lives. The priest and the religious and cultural leaders, powerful men all drawn to find out more about him. They needed to know more about what made him so influential. Why were so many thousands coming to him?
His message of hope was appealing and the miracles were awesome, but His love is what made people stay and follow. His love for them, compelled them to greater things. No one who met Jesus was left the same. No one who experienced him, was not moved to bring others to him. He was contagious and he was loving. His compassion and truth; his boldness and commitment to the message – even to the point of dying on a cross, was driven by love! Jesus said in John 15, “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Do you want to be a leader? Then, you have to be a lover. Do you want to influence others? Then you have to love others. Teddy Roosevelt said this, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Relationships that last and have mutual positive impact are always rooted in love.
All that UTK has the privilege to be a part of in the Dominican Republic, is totally dependent on love. The God who loves us invites us into His Kingdom work, because He cares for us. The work we do makes an impact
when it is done in love. Others, who see people working together and relating in love, are impacted by the example and begin to feel loved themselves and thus, increase the value they assign to themselves. They become hopeful and are drawn to get involved in the lifestyle of caring for others. Community is built as people care for one another. People lead and people follow as love is shared.
How are you showing love today? Are you investing in and impacting others today by leading them in love?