Facing the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon there is a banner which hangs proudly. Rise with us. It expresses the vision which the Trail blazers have cast for their team. If you expand the photo you should be able to see the smaller words spread across the banner. The Trail Blazers have done much to bring this vision to reality by procuring high quality young men who have character (albeit, with room for growth in maturity, shades of Oden and the regrettable photograph of himself floating about the internet), modest talent in most respects, and a strong work ethic. Sure they have an all-star in Brandon Roy, but as you will see in a moment, there is a problem. It’s name is irony.
Irony slapped character in the face and kicked it in the knee. Several knees, actually. The injury list grows. Despite a slightly better than .500 win ratio, hope is quickly fading that the Blazers will offer serious playoff contention this year, or possibly even in the years to come. Which bring us back to their motto: Rise With Us.
The Portland fan base is remarkably resilient. Despite the dreadful memories from the jail blazer years, support has grown as the new players have demonstrated strong character, mixed with hard work and an exciting brand of play. But, rise with us? It now reads like something you hope will happen speedily to a knee surgery patient. Several knee surgery patients, to be precise. And an ankle patient. Can’t forget him. The detailed list may be found here.
Ironic, isn’t it? They have many of the character assets that the fan base cried out for during the dark years. It seems unfair that so many of them are getting injured, decimating their talent pool. One commentator indicated they recently couldn’t even put together enough players to practice five-on-five. Kind of a big deal, since that is how an NBA game is played.
What do we make of this? What difference does it make to church leaders? Let me offer a few suggestions, and then I will invite you to chime in with your own.
As a blazer fan, I would say:
- Rise with us, even when injuries mount.
- Rise with us, even when the naysayers and pundits have a field day about why this happened, or that occurred.
- Rise with us because we will fight our hearts out and we need your backing to do so to the best of our ability.
- Rise with us, believe in us, because we will never give up.
- Rise with us, because the ideals posted on our banner are infused into our DNA, causing us to do our very best on the court, and in the community as we give back.
As someone who led in the church for many years, I would translate it as a form of statesmanship for those I lead this way:
- Rise with us, even if and when heartbreaks and dissapointments mount.
- Rise with us, especially when the naysayers and pundits have a field day about why this happened, or that occurred.
- Rise with us because we will fight our hearts out as servant-leaders and we need your backing, your participation, to do so to the best of our collective ability.
- Rise with us, believe in Christ who is our Lord, because we will never give up this cross which he has appointed for us to bear.
- Rise with us, because the ideals expressed through the Scriptures are infused into our DNA by virtue of God’s grace, causing us to do our very best in the tasks set before us locally and throughout the world as we give ourselves fully to the work of the gospel.
What would you add? When does statesmanship seem appropriate in your situation?