Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the Ryder Cup. For those unfamiliar, the Ryder Cup is a biennial golf competition that pits the U.S.A.’s 12-man team against a European team of 12. In existence since 1927, the competition draws most of the world’s best players as it is an incredible honor to make one of these two teams.
The 12 men on each side compete against each other in two-man team matches on Friday and Saturday followed by individual matches on Sunday. This format is unlike the typical professional golf tournament, which is all based on an individual’s score over three or four days.
The Solheim Cup is the women’s equivalent to the Ryder. This year’s Solheim took place the weekend before the Ryder Cup in Spain, generating incredible drama just like the Ryder Cup.
What I love about the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup is the intense competition between the two sides. No one is paid, so there is no money involved. Golf is typically thought to be an individual sport, but during these events, the players are not looking for a personal win but rather the great pride of playing for their team. Emotions run high, and contestants are often brought to tears out of a deep desire to not let their teammates down.
“The key with these events is that individual golfers cannot ‘win’ on their own: winning is achieved only when players work together as a team.”
The competition can at times lead to animosity between the two sides, but it arises from the deep passion the players have to support and encourage their teammates. The key with these events is that individual golfers cannot “win” on their own: winning is achieved only when players work together as a team. They all need each other to win the cup. As players cheer each other on toward their common goal and common vision, the results are quite astounding. It is fascinating to watch an individual sport be transformed into a team sport.
Teaming with other Christian schools
You may wonder how a team golf event has any correlation to Christian Education. What could Christian school leaders learn from the Ryder and Solheim Cups?
Tim Van Soelen, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education (CACE), and I recently had the privilege of meeting with a handful of Christian school leaders to discuss Christian education in their region. We spent time looking at the following questions:
- How can Christian education impact the larger community as a whole?
- How can the schools work together to impact more families and not miss any child’s opportunity to experience Christian education?
- What would it look like for the schools to work together to maximize Christian education in the community so more families would experience the benefit?
The two-day conversation was beautiful and encouraging. Leaders shared how things were going at their schools as well as hopes and dreams for their school and region. There was not a hint of competition among the participants; rather, the goal was to learn ways they could work together to impact more lives for Christ.
“What would it look like for the schools to work together to maximize Christian education in the community so more families would experience the benefit?”
A final exercise invited participants to look to the future. Participants were given time to develop the story of the school and region. Each story started with the following:
Once upon a time, there was . . .
One day they decided . . .
Because of that . . .
Until finally . . .
And ever since then . . .
As school leaders, we work for specific schools. Every day we are challenged with how to make the school effective and how to positively impact children through Christian education. We report to boards who have been entrusted with the well-being of the individual school they serve. The primary focus of our days needs to be on our current roles and our current schools.
But if we imagined together, what could the future look like for the area/region that we serve? Great things are possible if we work together with area Christian schools to impact more lives.