First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

Ben Stokes is not the Messiah - but Leadership Matters

The England cricket team beat Australia in the third Ashes Test to keep hopes alive of a series win.


This victory followed two nail-biting defeats and offered some vindication to the style of cricket played by the team since Ben Stokes took over as captain.


Labelled ‘Bazball’ after the head coach, Brendon McCullum, a key feature is to care less about the results and more about freeing the team to play naturally and from the pressure to perform.


This is hugely popular when they win but invites criticism when they lose. And after two Tests lost by narrow margins, brave choices started to look more like carelessness. It’s all very well having fun, but this is the archrivalry with the Australians. The trophy was literally burnt, feelings run that high.


But England’s tactics have still been to score fast, giving plenty of time to bowl the opposition out, and to set attacking fields even if it means leaking runs.


Yes, they lose, but they also win. And at the heart of the transformation has been a change in leadership.


There have been enough scandals in recent years to understand why people are suspicious of leadership, or shy away from it. It has been mishandled, and any prestige it might confer doesn’t seem worth the cost. But as the England cricket team shows, leadership matters. Leaders empower others, demonstrate trust, and pick up the pieces when things go wrong.


Throughout the Bible we see leaders making a transformational impact on their situation, whether that’s Moses leading Israel through the Red Sea, Daniel standing up to the King, or Jesus modelling leadership throughout his earthly ministry.


Ben Stokes is not the Messiah, and in the past he’s been quite a naughty boy. He has a habit of coming to the team’s rescue, though his heroics aren’t always enough. But good leadership isn’t about perfection. It’s not about a leader doing everything so you don’t have to.


Instead, great leaders provide clarity of purpose and empower people to join in. That’s what we’ve seen with the cricket, and it’s what we often see missing when leadership goes wrong. How might this affect how you lead on your frontline?


Leadership is also about following. When Jesus called the disciples to follow him, he gave them a purpose and demonstrated how they were to live. How does following the true Messiah give you clarity and purpose in all you do?



Danny Webster

Director of Advocacy, Evangelical Alliance