you should be more like this guy

Until now, my series on why the 2010 Texas Rangers would make a great college ministry has been pretty easy to swallow: a clear Team Purpose, good Stories and thought-out strategy, fun and traditions. Most of us would probably say we’d love to add those (if we don’t already have ’em) or build on what we’ve got in those areas.

But today’s is a bit different.

It’s not so easy to be objective about this one, since it’s about us – the college ministers. Yet it’s one characteristic that most shows me that the Rangers would make an excellent college ministry.

It’s their manager, Ron Washington.

Down-to-earth. Far from flashy. Passionate about the work itself. People-loving. Plain-talking. Sincere. Unpretentious. Invested – emotionally – in every play. Very human. Loved by those he leads. Loved by those he works for. Upbeat, even in the tough spots.

It’s easy to imagine these as characteristics a college minister could have. But I’m not sure we consider this type of college minister to perhaps be an ideal, or at least somebody to learn from.

Instead, we might guess Big Personality is our best chances to build a strong college ministry. After all, we know that one flashy, extroverted guy (who’s also an excellent speaker) who has built a pretty enormous ministry.

Others would place priority on Keeping Things Moving. We run “good college ministry plays,” look for Best Practices, and think in the now.

For other college ministers, having a Big Vision is what matters most. We know what we’ve seen others do, and we don’t see any reason we can’t achieve those numbers / activities / levels of recognition.

Or we might tend to lean hard on Process. Our only concern is tweaking the movement, systems, connections, and other gears that will build a ministry we can be proud of.

In many cases, our choices in this matter stem from our personalities. And clearly, there are ingredients of all of ’em that can be really helpful. Plus, God has built many great college ministries with college ministers who lean too hard toward one (or more) of these ways.

But the way we “manage” doesn’t have to be governed by our personalities. We can be better at what we do.

After meeting hundreds of college ministers around the country, I can say this: I hope we’ll have more and more “Ron Washington” college ministers. Because I think they’re one kind that’s pretty well suited to building a really impactful, a really long-lasting, a really healthy college ministry. That kind of college minister is one who

  • Cares deeply about the actual work of college ministry
  • Thinks deeply about the work of college ministry
  • Invests deeply in the work of college ministry
  • Loves deeply within his or her world of college ministry.

The big news locally has been a 7-year-old who dressed up like Wash for Halloween. It’s an odd choice when he’s clearly far less “celebrity” than any of his players – just a short, balding, older gentleman who’s in his first manager position ever. When he heard about that kid’s costume, Washington offered this reflection:

“You know, the kid must love baseball, and he must love energy. He must love caring. And that’s my personality.”

That struck me as a pretty profound way to capture Washington’s personality: “caring.” He doesn’t simply mean “liking the game of baseball,” “loving my players,” or “caring that we win.” He means that he cares about the work. He throws himself – in thought and energy – into the work itself.

If even on this single axis we all took a step forward, something special would happen in our field.

[For more, read about Washington and his story here. See my whole series here.]

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Picture provided by Cacophony / Wikipedia under the license here.

“It’s very flattering,” Washington said on Friday. “You know, the kid must love baseball, and he must love energy. He must love caring. And that’s my personality. And it’s nice that there could be someone that wants to imitate Ron Washington. I never in all my wildest dreams thought that. He might want to imitate some other star. I certainly don’t consider myself a star; I’m just a baseball man. But it’s nice that that young kid could watch a baseball game and want to be Ron Washington. That means a lot.”

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