My sixth grade son just concluded the winter basketball season. As I watched his team practice and play over the last few months, it was interesting to see how the players approached the game.
Most players at this age and stage of development are looking for “plays” — specific instructions about what exactly they need to do in a particular situation. “Stand here,” “Move here,” “Pass the ball here.” But as these boys continue to grow, they will need to move beyond plays, to the principles that underlie the plays. “Get between your man and the basket.” “Don’t turn your back on the ball.” “Run to the open spot on the floor.” “Look for the seam in the defense.”
The difference is that plays direct exact behavior and only work in specific situations, while principles guide personal decision-making and can be generalized to a variety of situations.
As we work to develop leaders in ministry, are we just running plays, or are we also teaching them principles that explain the “why” of the “what,” help them think for themselves, and minister successfully in a variety of contexts?