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Conference Fellowship

Fellowship event features ‘big league’ leadership tips

Fellowship2Tom Zobrist, pastor of Liberty Bible Church in Eureka, and the father of 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, headlined The Illinois Association of Christian Administrators’ fellowship with stories of inside baseball that parallel the precepts of Nehemiah.

Zobrist led off with some baseball talk, surprising a packed house of school administrators and school board members on Saturday morning at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference. Many were Chicago Cubs fans, and some were even in Cubs’ gear for the 7 a.m. event.

The elder Zobrist was quick to point out, however, that he had grown up a Cardinals’ fan.

“At one time, I didn’t even believe you could be saved and be a Cubs’ fan,” Zobrist joked. “And now I am one.”

Zobrist and his wife Cindi have been ministering at Liberty Bible Church since 1988. He is a graduate of Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary in Kansas City. The couple have four other children in addition to Ben, and four grandchildren.

He recalled that his son Ben met with Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon in the off-season after winning a World Series with Kansas City in 2015. Maddon, a former manager in Tampa where Ben played from 2006 to 2014, talked Ben into joining the Cubs by presenting him with a tough challenge: become a “super-utility” player and play extremely well while switching daily between various positions in the infield and outfield.

Fellowship1“Professional athletes love a challenge,” Zobrist noted, “and Ben loved that one, and loved the idea of playing again for Joe.”

“Maddon has the unusual ability to draw the best out of people, and he was a success at turning the Cubs around, just as Tom Ricketts was at turning Wrigleyville around,” Zobrist said.

The baseball stories then led to a discussion of keys to a leader’s success, as shown in the Book of Nehemiah, a book in the Old Testament about the restoration of the city of Jerusalem, based on conclusions described in Zobrist’s book, Look What God Can Do!

Among the principles for successful, compelling leaders Zobrist listed: caring, willing to admit when they are wrong, courageous, not worrying about success if they glorify God in the process, ability to co-ordinate people, having contingency plans, and a willingness to confront sin, and confront issues.

Zobrist continued to weave stories of rebuilding a lost baseball organization together with parallel lessons from Nehemiah on rebuilding the walls and resuscitating faith Jerusalem.

“They praise God for victories,” the pastor said at last, sharing the final precept from his book’s list of key principles successful leaders follow.

“Amen!” was the answer from many in the room.

This was the second year for a Saturday morning fellowship time at the school leadership conference. The Illinois Association of Christian Administrators exists to provide a network of Christ-like support and spiritual growth for school leaders. It follows the philosophy of the “16-9 Movement,” or legal and graceful Christians in the public schools.


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