Thursday, 28 April 2011

Is Guardiola another genius?

I suspect when I spoke of Gaudi, Guardiola and Picasso in the same breath many had an instinctive 'I know those two, but what did Guardiola paint? Of course, football fans may well have responded by asking 'who did Picasso play for?'
Pepe Guardiola is the coach (in British terminology 'manager') of Barcelona Football Club. Currently, Barcelona can lay a very reasonable, and generally accepted, claim to being the best footballing club side in the world. I said this before last night's victory over their arch rivals Real Madrid!
Last night's game was not a pretty match, full of unsavoury incidents, little great football, but some scintillating moments of sheer brilliance. Whether managing a football club to the highest of heights makes someone a genius is debatable, but it makes Guardiola an artist - along with Gaudi and Picasso, of a high order. To argue otherwise, it seems to me, is to deny any leader of a congregation needs to be an artist. People are the common factor. Guardiola has to play through others on the pitch every bit as much as any Minister has to minister through others in their congregation.
I found comments during last night game, most of which I managed to watch, very interesting. 'Madrid will stop Barcelona playing football any way they can' seemed to be the refrain. Mourinho, the present Real coach commented afterwards 'sometimes I am a little bit disgusted to live int his world.' Sometimes you have to remind yourself this is a game we're talking about.
However, the thing I've been reflecing upon since our trip over to Barcelona last week (yes, I'm not keen to let my holiday go too soon) is something referred to as 'the Barcelona way'. It's a reference to 'how' Barca play football. (The pain for me is we used to hear talk of 'the Liverpool way' - my hope is Kenny Daglish can revive 'the way' rather than merely the language, which is the problem Ministers fall into!).
Last week, I stood on a bridge and watched a game of football between boys of about 9 & 10 for just a few minutes. It was part of a complex clearly belonging to Barca Football Club. In those few minutes I saw a degree of skill and thoughtfulness about how to play football I seldom see in a typical amateur match between British adults. They played the ball, they seemed to have time, they were not rushed, passing to another member of their side with accuracy appeared natural.
The Barcelona way did not 'just happen'. Any coach of Barcelona has to fit into the traditions of 'the way', or they do not last long (most don't last long in any case, probably akin tot he tenure of a Southern Baptist Pastor!)
Ministers, traditions of local congregations, working through equipping and releasing other people, developing skill in engaging others to bring out their best, allowing the work of others to do your main talking, respecting the past, finding creative solutions to age old problems, fulfilling potential, aiming for excellence, seeking an even more fruitful future, placing values before words. Guardiola is an people artist for sure and I think we need a bit more artistry in our ministry.

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