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The "Batch Attitude"

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 269

"Batch Slowly Wins Respect" read the headline of USA Today’s Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Sports section. According to USA Today feature writer Jarrett Bell, the rookie Detroit Lions quarterback has quickly gained respect. This respect is from rookies and veterans, family and fans, sportswriters and front office owners.
 
Most importantly, however, the one he most greatly respects is himself.
 
Perhaps that is one of the great crises of congregational leadership: the crisis of self-respect. Ministers and other Christian leaders lacking this key quality may, in the final analysis, lack that which is most necessary for effective, dynamic, persevering leadership.
 
What Are The Secrets?
 
1) Being Able To Withstand "Rookie Treatment."
Veteran receiver Herman Moore, speaking of Batch in the locker room, was overheard saying, "For a rookie, I guess he’s all right." Little did he know, Batch overheard the conversation. Other common criticisms might be "you’re too young, too inexperienced, too ‘dreamy-eyed.’"
 
The criticism from one's' peers, especially veterans, is a most effective criticism. The one who succumbs and blindly responds to the response of those who claim greater knowledge, ability, experience, and expertise is one who lacks self-respect, self-direction and self-esteem. The combination of these leads to a lack of self-defense.
2) Being Able To "Fit In" With Your Uniqueness.
One of the most important things for quarterback Batch is to be part of the team. Given the diversity of the team members, interests and family backgrounds, Batch recognizes that even in areas where there is not common experience—or comfort—"you kind of feel your way around and fit in."
3) Building A Positive Track Record.
Finding himself as a starter on the Detroit Lions for the third game of his rookie season was not magic. It was not an accident. It was the result of a long track record.
 
Batch came from Eastern Michigan University, a relatively small and unknown university overshadowed by the powerful University of Michigan. The media had every reason not to focus on him. They had every reason to overlook this small university standout. Whatever the record of his teammates at Eastern Michigan University, he knew that the most important thing was his long-term future.
4) The "Trout Look."
"I still haven’t seen what I call ‘the Trout look,’" said Lions quarterback coach Jim Zorn. This peculiar "Batch" expression is when he holds his "mouth agape, with big, saucer-like eyes, where you don’t really know whether he’s with you or not." But,  quarterback coach Jim Zorn added, as many times as he has seen this characteristic "Batch" response, "he may be upset, but I haven’t seen him rattled."
5) Cool Composure.
Perhaps the greatest and most noticeable Batch trait by peers, coaches and fans alike. "I don’t get nervous," Batch says, "because I believe I belong here."
6) Self-Surprise.
Perhaps no one is more surprised at Batch’s immediate success than Batch himself. "I never envisioned becoming a starter so quickly," admitted Batch.
 
Batch would also admit, however, that though he was surprised that it happened quickly, he is not surprised that he is a starter. That was, he would add, always his goal. He persevered and sweated toward the goal. He produced the output. He held to his vision. The outcome and its timing, though out of his control, was always in his focus.
 
There are things we can control; other things we can’t. "Self-surprise" is an attitude of readiness which exploits every possible advantage in one's control, waiting for the golden moment of "self-surprise."
 
Perhaps that is why he was repeatedly acclaimed more highly than cross-town rival quarterback, Bob Griese, who led the University of Michigan to a National Championship. But Batch knew that the best quarterbacks are not always on the championship teams. His calling was to his team. But his greater calling was to realize everything that God had made him. In this unique, God-given giftedness was his uniqueness.
7) Being At Peace With Grief.
Virtually everyone has tragedy, loss and grief. It’s also true of the ministry. Unless one can effectively manage grief in this "vale of tears," the forces of decline, doubt and depression will almost inevitably settle in. These forces will permeate one’s life, family, friends and ministry leadership.
 
Charlie Batch’s seventeen-year-old sister died tragically in gang crossfire. "I’ll trade all that I have now to have her back… It’s just really difficult. When I look at this game, this is nothing. People try to say how hard the game is and all of that. Well, life in general is hard for me."
 
After several years of grief, Batch continued, "I finally realized she was gone, finally accepted it to the point you know you can’t do anything about it… It’s hard to come at peace with it…because it’s not at peace… I wonder why it was her."
8) Recognizing, With Gratitude, The "Reason" For Everything.
Finally, he sighs, "Everything happens for a season… It’s always something. But that’s how I stay humbled, stay grounded. You are never guaranteed tomorrow. I go home and thank God that I’m here. Because as fast as this opportunity came, it can go. Life in general has taught me that."
 
This characteristic is recognized by others, too. Coach Zorn said, "I think the experiences Charlie has helped mold the sense of determination he brings to the football field."

9) Willingness To "Make A Statement."

Standouts, by definition, do just that. They stand out. They make a statement. Especially when opportunity knocks. In his tryouts for the Lions he knew just one thing: "When I went there I knew I had to make a statement."
 
But the making of a statement is not a one-time proposition. It’s a lifestyle. Those who only make "occasional statements" may not be showing greatness but recklessness. Such haphazardness is driven more by impulse than vision, more by the moment than by the future, more by lack of resolve than strength of character.

10) Living With And Recovering From Failure.

Like every quarterback, Batch is not perfect. He has bad days, too. In a November 1, 1998 game vs. Arizona he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. But it was in his failure that his true greatness was demonstrated.
 
"After we pulled him, he had the correct response," coach Zorn noted. "He came up to me and said, ‘Listen, I don’t like being taken out. I got us into this mess, and I want to get us out of it. I want to finish what I started."
 
Sensing his determination, Zorn continued, "Don’t get comfortable with this taking you out." And he’s not. Batch is right back in there even more confident. He has found his "groove" and matching and passing better than the likes of Joe Montana and Dan Marino.

11) Beginning Each Day With Enthusiasm For The Next Game.

A quarterback who loses his enthusiasm for the next game is destined for the bench. His enthusiasm is an essential element for excellence. Without it, each game is simply "just another game."
Do The Batch Attitude…One Better!
 
The "Batch Attitude" may, in many ways, exemplify the vintage attitude of leadership. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the "Batch Attitude" is the recovery from failure. It’s the battle of the heart which most often hinders greater leadership growth. It’s the fear and pain that life brings that may make it difficult to do the Batch Attitude one better!
 
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Batch Attitude was that he had a coach who believed in him. "Don’t get comfortable with this taking you out," Zorn reminded him.
 
Success or failure of ministry may bring one face-to-face with greater pain of new heights or new depths. Ministry, as life, repeatedly requires times for individuals to retreat, re-group, and re-address what life and ministry brings.
 
But don’t get comfortable with the ‘taking you out.’ God ain’t done with you yet. Heed those coaches who tell you to "get up!" and "go at it again." If you don’t have one—find one.
 
Imaginary Friend?
 
Small children often, as part of their normal development, invent imaginary friends. Such "friends" usually are characterized by those characteristics most needed by these children in their respective circumstances. These imaginary friends are strong, patient, confidants who enable fruitful reflection on childhood issues. They offer protection. They also provide coaching.
 
Sometimes the ministry experience is painful because we fail to follow that simple, childlike pattern. Certainly some can make up an imaginary friend. As Christians, however, we don’t have to resort to fantasy or imagination. We can resource Scriptures to give us real-life examples of coaches to give us strength.
 
Have you ever had a conversation with St. Paul? What would it be like to talk with him about success and failure? How about Peter? James? Ruth? Esther? Abraham? David? Solomon? Mary? Each one, whether male or female, has insights to offer. Of course, we would certainly not overlook the insights of our Lord who "suffered in every way as we did except without sin."
 
Go Beyond The Batch Attitude!
 
Ministry will be painful. Life will bring grief. But God’s call to faithfulness is a call to override these factors. Indeed, that’s the real measure of success or failure. Not the external occurrences but the inner transformation.
 
Get up! Go at it again! You can discover that you can go beyond the Batch Attitude. In success or failure, you really can do all things in Christ who strengthens you!
 
Thomas F. Fischer

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:03:35 PM