I do not like Michael Jordan. It’s nothing personal. I grew up a Pistons fan, and he played for the Bulls. He owned the Pistons. Had he played for my team, he’d probably be my favorite player of all time. I can admit that. Even though I’ve never liked him, I admire him a lot…now that he’s no longer beating the Pistons. What I admire him for is what a lot of people question him on, though. When he retired after the 1993 season, having just led his team to a three-peat, people were shocked. Two years later, he came out of retirement, because he still wasn’t satisfied, despite all he had accomplished. That made a lot of sense to a lot of people. When he retired after the 1998 season, after having just completed another three-peat, he walked away as the hardly disputed greatest of all time. Then, three years later, he did it again, coming out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards. He was older. He was slower. He wasn’t the same guy. People couldn’t understand why he was doing it, but he still wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to go for more. Shortly before, during, and after he played for the Wizards, he served as a poor executive for them. You would be hard pressed to find someone that thinks he was successful there as an executive. Many said he was a great player, but a poor executive, and should give up that pursuit. He didn’t. His past defeats as an executive meant nothing to him, because he was still driven. He went to work in Charlotte. He’s done okay so far.
As much as I dislike him as a Pistons killer, I admire that he was never satisfied with his accomplishments and never deflated by his defeats. Was it risky to come out of retirement a second time to play in Washington? Sure it was. Did it pay off? Probably not. But he took the risk. Will it pan out with him in Charlotte? I’m not sure. It’s another risk.
I think we should approach ministry – and probably our Christian lives in general – like Jordan approached basketball. We need to take risks. When we become too satisfied with our wins or too defeated by our losses, we tend to take less risks for God. We’re either too content or too scared. I don’t want my previous successes and failures to prevent me from taking risks for God’s kingdom. When that fire burns inside me to do something, I want to do it, history not withstanding. I don’t want to hold onto what has always worked if there’s a greater opportunity. I don’t want to shy away from challenges, because I’ve failed too many times. I just want to go and do what God tells me to do, regardless of the risks.