What Can Pastors Learn from Peyton Manning?

Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.  He is a Super Bowl champion and a four time Most Valuable Player.  He has led his team, the Indianapolis Colts, to nine consecutive  playoff appearances.  But perhaps the most impressive Peyton statistic is that coming into this year he had started 208 consecutive football games - an amazing feat of durability in the physically demanding NFL.

But over the off-season the unthinkable happened.  Peyton had surgery on his neck, and didn't heal in time for the beginning of the 2011 season.  In fact, it is now doubtful that he will play this season at all.  For the first time in 13 seasons, the Colts are forced to face life without Peyton Manning.

So far, the results have not been pretty.  The Colts have lost their first five games.  At times they have seemed lost and bewildered.  One does not easily replace a player of Peyton's considerable talent but, at the same time, should losing any one player really make that big a difference?  Perhaps as the season goes on the Colts will find their way and win a few games.  But right now, it really doesn't look good.  As long as Peyton was behind center, they did well.  But as soon as he's gone, "poof," they can't win a football game.  Somewhere along the way the Colts became overly dependent on one player.

Could the Colts coaching staff, or even Peyton himself, done more to prepare the team for a scenario in which Peyton couldn't play?  I don't know for sure, but it certainly seems that way.

It makes me wonder how many churches are in the same boat.  How many churches are so centered around their pastor that if he ever left, or was unable to continue, the church would fall apart?  It happens.

A good pastor is like a good quarterback.  If you lose him, there's no way the team (church) won't take a hit. But a good church should be able to recover.  Others should be prepared to step up, fill in, and provide stability until new leadership is in place.

Pastor, are you equipping others to do the work of ministry, or is everything built around you?  If anything happened to you, what would become of your church?  Would others know what to do, or would they be lost?  What ministries would suffer or cease altogether if you weren't there to do them?  Perhaps these are the ministries that you should begin now coaching other people to lead.

For all of Peyton Manning's greatness, his team is not prepared to carry on in his absence.  Pastors, we can do better by our churches.