Posted by: naccm | December 2, 2010

Patriot Haters – by Tim Hawkins

Ok, I hope the title caught your attention…I’m finding there are a lot of Patriot-haters outside of New England!  But, this post is not REALLY about the Patriots…only relates to them.

Living in a city where Bill Belichick might border on deity, and Tom Brady walks on water…I hear a lot about “the Patriot Way” and the “Belichick system”. I am sure that more than one Patriot-hater out there will point out that the Patriot Way and the Belichick System include illegally taping practices and other nefarious happenings.

Love ’em or hate ’em. They are very successful.

Over the past few years, after starting a ministry from scratch and looking at other ministries who have been successful, one thing I see in common is that there is a system to work out, and the team (ministry) is built around the system.

The most successful (teams, ministries, organizations) it seems to me, are built around 4 things:

1.  A strong leader with a good system.

2.  A clear organization/team/ministry objective communicated by the leader to which all other people work toward (rather than maximization of the individual talent or potential).

3.  Good assessment of talent that best fits the system or assessment of individuals who are coachable and willing to become a part of the system (#1 criteria on Patriots scouting cards for players:  No assholes.  True story…they aren’t coachable.)

4.  Skills and drills that reinforce the system.

I’m really looking to start a conversation here…(not about the Patriots or Bellichick, please!), but about ministry.  This post has led me to think of a lot of other questions:  Is this a good thing, is it healthy?  Are there inherent problems/weaknesses?  How do you learn the drills and skills?  What if you are not a great leader, or don’t have a system?  What about people who don’t fit the system?  What skills and drills are you reinforcing in your ministry?  Is there something to be learned here for preparing people to lead?  Would some systems work on every campus no matter who was leading?

Further thoughts in weeks to come…



  1. I am a “Patriot Hater” and their success has only been during the “Spy–Gate” era. Maybe you could use an organization that has had success in multiple eras like…I don’t know…the Steelers! They may have used steroids in the 70’s but they have also won without “cheating.” Also with multiple leaders! On to the real stuff
    I have used the Rooney’s success plan many times in looking at ministry and even heard speakers from the organization. What I have seen just like Tim is that the “system” in most cases is flawed by not being usable without the proper pieces. That is more true with the Pats because the Steelers have seen great success even when major parts are down. New coaches and players! That is a philosophy of the Team that sees each person on the team as a possible replacement at anytime; if you can’t step in then you aren’t on the team. More of a “when” versus “if” mind-set.
    Jesus gave an example that anyone and everyone that is following Him can duplicate! We are being told too often that we have to gain a certain level before we are fit to truly follow Jesus. I have been reading, “Disciple Making Minister” by David Kirkwood and “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge both really hit this point hard, that when we believe we are fit for service! We do need to practice and “perfect” our gifts but we don’t need some other outside sign to tell us we are ready! The “roles”/”positions” are being set up as what we need to acheive when all we need to know is that God loves us and we are following Jesus! He has made us ready! Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized…and you will receive the gift of the Hole Spirit!
    Love the football references too!

  2. Around the time you posted your article, I had begun to think about something similar. One day on his show Colin Cowherd was talking about Bill Belichick and leadership. He had a couple of great quotes including, (in my best paraphrase) “in this world coaches are a dime a dozen, but true leaders are rare.” He then talked about the fact that proximity to genius doesn’t guarantee genius or even success, citing the numerous failures of the BB coaching tree. His assertions (stated and implied) were this: dynamic leadership is rare, even the greatest systems will fail without dynamic leadership, leadership like Belichick is a have it or don’t thing not a can be developed thing, and truly great leaders will always find their way to the top.
    My head was spinning as I considered the implications for our field. I believe Cowherd is right, truly great leaders are rare. There are a lot of us in ministry who have a comprehensive understanding of the theological and practical subject matter, many of us can even communicate it, some better than average. Were we to settle in, pray, ask God for dynamic vision, and be a unique expression of God’s kingdom we could make a significant difference in our world. However, I believe that we forgo this route in order to buy into systems that have produced greatness for others. Perhaps believing (or at least hoping) that a system might bring greatness to our locale as well. In my (very humble) opinion, in doing so we have made two mistakes. First, we have failed to realize is that many of the guys who create the systems are Bill Belichick and without Bill Belichick the system will never produce greatness. Secondly, we have conceded our own vision, our own potential greatness for the sake of the illusion of a proven commodity. When BB refused to concede any longer everything changed for him. Allow me to explain.
    For much of Belichick’s early career he worked under Bill Parcells. Then from 1991 to 1995 he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Operating as a miniature version of Parcells he eaked out a mediocre tenure in Cleveland. After resigning from Cleveland he again stepped into a role in Parcell’s shadow as a coordinator. He followed Parcells until 1999. Parcells had arranged for BB to take over as Jets head coach upon his retirement after that season. This was what most men would consider an ideal situation, even a dream of sorts to take over and follow in the footsteps of his mentor and friend. Belichick in that moment proved his dynamic leadership, his genius. The day he was introduced to the world as Parcells’ replacement he stepped to the podium and resigned as JETS head coach before ever coaching a day. He then blazed his own trail back through New England and the rest is NFL history.
    Last year one of Belichick’s young proteges named Josh McDaniel showed up in Denver with “the hoodie’s” system and his sleeveless sweatshirt. Now, less than two full seasons later he’s gone and will go down in Bronco history as a failure. Have you ever listened to Josh McDaniel speak? He certainly sounds genius, definitely not like a failure. One can only speculate what might have happened had he come to Denver with a fresh plan, a unique vision, and sleeves in his sweatshirt.
    So, you’re probably asking what all of this has to do with anything let alone ministry? Well, since I’ve heard Cowherd I’ve spent a lot of time meditating, a lot of time being convicted. The questions that keeps coming up are, “what about you Kyle, who’s system are you trying to work,” or “so Kyle, where is your dynamic vision coming from, have you done the work?” If I was really, really honest with myself the answer wouldn’t be what I what I would like it to be. So, what about you?

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