Why Leaders (and Parents!) Must “Make a Good Throw”

Why Leaders (and Parents!) Must “Make a Good Throw”

My boys are young men now, grown and out of the house. They are no longer children, but young men and leaders. I love the relationship I have with them at this age.

But I do miss the days when they were younger. The wrestling and the rough-housing wasn’t dangerous back then! And we don’t do things like just playing catch.

When they were younger, we played catch quite a lot and both of them had very strong arms. My younger son excelled at throwing a baseball, while my older son excelled at throwing a football (though he threw awkwardly, like my favorite quarterback, Phillip Rivers of the Chargers).

When they were really young, it was always great to be with them…but playing catch was a lot of work!

Why? Because they were enamored with the strength of their arms rather than the accuracy of their throws.

They would rear back and throw the ball as hard as they possibly could and, usually, it would sail 10 or 15 feet above me, or because of the effort would be very inaccurate and fly in a completely different direction. It was uncatchable. I was constantly trying to anticipate where the ball would go, and usually ended up putting in a lot of effort to try and catch it or chase after it as it flew (or rolled) by me, well out of reach.

Over and over I would tell them:

The only good throw is one that the person you are throwing to can catch!

If I said it once, I said it a thousand times!  Eventually they understood, and as they grew older it was a lot more fun (and much easier!) to play catch with my boys.

What I’ve learned, though, is often we do this same thing as adults. We fail to “make a good throw” to those we are leading.

As leaders, we get enamored with our vision.  We get enamored with our organizational goals.  We get enamored with the latest business or leadership principles we’re reading about. We get energized and throw them out there with all our might, not being careful to make sure that they are “catchable”.

Or as parents, we get enamored with the way we want things to be.  We get enamored with our own comfort levels we feel we “deserve” at home.  We get enamored with the eloquent way we’re teaching our kids. We throw our rules or ideas or expectations with great gusto and confidence. But they aren’t catchable.

Our staff, our volunteers, or our children can’t catch what we’re throwing them.

It’s over their heads.  Or it’s completely misdirected.  What we’re trying to give them isn’t presented in a way that they can catch on to.

So when you have that great idea for ministry at church, or you have to deal with that issue at work, or you want your kids to change at home – make sure to present your ideas in a way that can be caught by the person(s) you’re throwing them to. Make sure you are making a good throw! 

Remember:

The only good throw is one that the person you are throwing to can catch!

It makes what you’re doing a lot more fun – and effective.

But how do you do that?  Here’s a few pointers that might apply to any given situation:

Throwing Well

> Understand the game plan.

In football, the wide receiver runs a certain pattern before receiving the ball.  It’s part of the game plan.  The quarterback has to understand where that player is on the field and throw it to that spot.

In the same way, it’s important that as leaders or parents, we understand where our team or kids are at.  That goes back to relationship. Making an investment in real & authentic relationships as part of our game plan helps us understand where our people are at, or where they are headed.

> Throw appropriately.

In baseball, where & how the ball is thrown is dependent on the situation.  The outfielder can throw it to different bases depending on where the runners are going.  The 2nd baseman makes a hard throw home or a soft toss to the shortstop depending on the situation.

In the same way, we’ve got to present our ideas, dir.ectives or vision in an appropriate way to the one receiving it. Is it time for firmness or gentle persuasion? Inviting ideas or communicating an already chosen path? Punishment or discipline?

Make sure we throw appropriately to our kids and those we are leading

> Trust that the catch will be made.

Once we’ve done our part, we have to trust that what we’ve thrown will be caught.  When a quarterback releases the ball, there’s nothing more that he can do to control the situation.  If the ball is not caught, he must go back and draw up a new play for moving the ball down the field.

It’s not quite that cut & dry in leadership or parenting, but it’s similar in the sense that we must “let go” of what we are throwing and have high expectations of the one receiving.  If they don’t catch what we’re throwing their way, we go back and try again.

And that leads me to the second part of this post…

Catching well.

Most of us find ourselves on the receiving end of directives & vision, at least in our work (if you’re reading this, I’m kind of assuming your not at home “receiving” from your parents, so I won’t address that part!).  It’s important to know how to “catch” well, also. Here’s a few pointers for when you’re on the receiving end:

> Don’t expect perfection.

Quarterbacks make bad throws sometimes.  Occasionally they don’t time them very well.  And once in awhile they throw it to the other team.

Our leaders are no more perfect than we are.  We shouldn’t expect them to be.

> Adjust to the throw.

Most of the time the ball is not in the perfect location.  A receiver has to slow down, speed up, reach low or jump high.  What he can’t do is not make an effort.  He must adjust as well as possible and make every attempt to make the catch.

In our lives, we must do the same.  Seek clarification.  Try and understand the reasoning behind the throw.  Don’t undermine if you don’t understand or disagree.  Encourage those around you to participate in the play.

> Work hard after you make the catch.

A baseball player catches the ball and makes the tag or throws the ball to another player. A football receiver needs to turn and get as far down the field as possible before being tackled.

Once we understand the directive, embrace the vision or grasp the idea, it’s time to do something with it.  Be proactive in our response.  Work hard.  And if you don’t know what the next step is, ask.

Playing catch with my boys was a lot of fun.  It was a lot more fun once they understood the process a little bit better. The same is true of my interactions with those I work and live with.  Throwing and catching well can make all the difference in moving the ball down the field.

The only good throw is one that the person you are throwing to can catch!

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