Friday, June 6, 2014

Lessons learned from San Antonio Spurs: The Bonner Principle

Perhaps the greatest reason the Spurs are such a successful team, setting records for consecutive playoff appearances, is that they follow the principles that the apostle Paul conveys in 1 Corinthians 12.  It's no secret that Greg Popovich is considered the best coach today and the reason is that he sticks to the same principles, one body, one team with many parts all working together for one goal. As the Spurs attempt to win their fifth title most all agree that they are the epitome of a team that plays "team" basketball.  In a league where the stars are the focus and many games boil down to the star players going one on one, the Spurs stick to the team concept. All teams make an attempt at the passing game but never seem as committed to it as the Spurs. 

Popovich's players all know their goal, their abilities and the role in which they are called to play.  And because they don't try to be more than the assigned role they play on the team, they excel at what they do and so does the team.  Sure the Spurs have stars, Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan, but these stars and the rest of the team know their specific role and put team first before individual accolades.
Matt Bonner is another great example, a player who may not see the court on many NBA teams.  Not many want a slow footed big man that can't jump but he thrives in the Spurs system because they know how to maximize his talents, using his great 3 point shooting to stretch the floor and draw the opponent's big men out of the paint.  The coaches know his limitations but minimize them by using him in situations that call for his strengths.

Players like Patrick Mills last year and Corey Joseph this year, spend the majority of their time on the bench cheering the team on.  Mills made the most of his time on the bench last year waving a towel and cheering the team on and was ready when called on to play this year bringing that same energy to the court. Joseph was called on in the Thunder playoff series and did as well if not better than the starters when he got his chance to play.  

It should be no different in ministry, only our goal changes from winning a championship to making a difference for God's kingdom (much greater).  Our team is the body of Christ and God has given each of us special gifts and talents to accomplish His purposes which He has already prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10) Church planters, pastors and all believers need to understand their unique talents and gifts and accept their unique role they are called to play in the body of Christ.  

Paul explains to the Corinthian believers, everyone is valuable in God's kingdom but not everyone can be a Michael Jordan. The team needs point guards, back up centers and forwards. They need scouts, front office personnel coaches and trainers.  All are important and play a role in a successful team. In God's kingdom we need house church pastors, urban planters, missionaries, Godly businessmen and women, children's workers and on and on. We can't accomplish God's work without any of them. Don't worry about being the next Rick Warren or Craig Groschell.  When you know your purpose, find your unique calling, do it well, you'll accomplish incredible things for God and will be an instrumental part of The Ultimate Winning Team.  Video of Spurs team basketball


Jose Menchaca said...

This is probably implied by your statement "one team with many parts all working together toward one goal", but I'm going to state it more explicitly.  A recurring expression you see as you read many of the articles regarding the "Spurs way" is the term "buy in" or "bought in". Such as, the players have "bought in" to Pop's idea of team play on both ends of the court. Isn't this just another term for faith. The players have faith that if they "get over themselves" and do it Pop's way, they will be champions. 
Have we "bought in" to God's way?  It's an important question to ask ourselves. If, as Christians, we've really bought in to God's way, then why do we struggle with the same habitual ways that are contrary to God's Word? Let's all reflect on this and truly buy in so that we can be the "champions" God has intended us to be. 

John Walters said...

Excellent observation Marty. Faith is about trust and if we have faith in God, you are absolutely correct, we will obey Christ. Pop obviously has the Spurs attention, they listen to him and follow his direction. Do we listen to God? I guess we could go on and on with the lessons. Thanks for commenting.

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