This year I watched almost every stage of the Tour de France. On a whim I just decided to record 2-hour play back of stage 5 and then I watched every stage after that, becoming a bit of a bike racing junkie in the process. In fact it is a sport that I wished I would have picked up while growing up because I have the right body type to compete well in it supposedly.
As I was watching I started to find correlations between the strategy of bike racing and church ministry. I learned a lot about bike racing and there some things pastors can learn from it as well:
- Work together for a the greater good of the team. No rider has ever won The Tour without a strong team behind him. This is the biggest thing I learned about bike racing, it is completely a team sport. I used to think they all just rode every day for themselves, but I stand corrected. You cannot do successful church ministry by yourself. Even if you are the only pastor at your church, there must be key volunteers around you that help make your church successful. The biggest challenge I’ve had in my job is to work with others that I trust and don’t trust for the greater good of our ministry.
- It is a long race: pace yourself. The Tour lasts over 3 weeks with daily rides that often last in excess of 6 hours. You cannot win or even compete in individual stages or the overall race without great pace, nor can you last in church ministry with pace.
- Can you handle the pressure? There will come a time in church ministry when the pressure will be on. For me this comes in the form of sharing from the stage or having a guitar/vocal part that is difficult, or heading into a meeting that I know will be hard. My effectiveness as a pastor (I don’t like being called a pastor) is often determined when the pressure is on. You cannot win the Tour if you can’t handle the pressure. The pressure always comes in the mountain stages. If you crack under the pressure, you won’t win the Tour.
- Play to your strengths. There are 4 different jerseys out on the race to be had each day. One for the overall leader, one for the best climber, one for the best sprinter, and one for the best overall young rider. The Tour isn’t necessarily just about the person who wins (though that is the highest honor in cycling), and church ministry takes people with various strengths. This is why we have small group leaders, preaching communicators, worship leaders, youth pastors, etc. Each of these people are allowed to play to their strengths.
Alright bike racing fans…what would you add to the list?