I’m going to be tired and grumpy for the next three weeks.
It is of course not my fault. The blame lies fairly and squarely at the feet of the organisers of the Tour de France for putting their event on in such a different time zone, and of course I also partially blame SBS for telecasting the whole race live. 21 consecutive late nights gets me every year.
But every year I’m unable to resist what is one of the world’s greatest sporting spectacles. A 21 stage cycle race, “the Tour” takes 180 riders over 3500 km around France (and this year taking in parts of Monaco, Spain and Switzerland) at an average speed in the vicinity of 45 km/h.
It’s a three week long game of chess, played out by almost superhuman athletes chasing the biggest prize in cycling.
I love it.
I love it for the spectacle, the scenery of the French/Spanish/Swiss mountains, for the technical details, for the unbelievable human commitment to carrying on in the face of adversity and incredible physical challenge.
One of the main reasons I love it, however, is the nature of how the tactics of the race play out. In most sports the tactical game is important, and plays out over the short term. Test cricket extends the time-cycle of sporting tactics to five days, but the tour is rare in that those tactics play out over such a long period of time. Riders and teams make choices every day about how much energy is expended, and which of their opponents are put in what situations based on tactics that can take days (or weeks) to emerge.
It’s a fascinating exercise to try and keep track of how the tactics are being played, and how the situation might change over several stages. Time is different in the Tour than in most other sporting events. And the teams that manage that nature of time, and the tactics that go along with it, are the teams that prosper.
I think many of the same comments might be true of our ongoing struggle with change in the church.
Change sometimes comes quickly, and under the influence of external forces. A natural disaster, or rapid social upheaval force change upon is, and force us to react and respond to those external stimuli. That’s not always easy.
Managing our tactics and thinking ahead in the nature of a Tour de France team manager, seeing how our decisions today might impact upon our world tomorrow, will be vital for leaders in the church in this dynamic environment.
Part of the Tour tactics kit bag too is a willingness to suffer today, for gain tomorrow. Sometimes its worth taking a loss in the short term, so that the longer term can play out accordingly.
There are lots of interesting tactics in the Tour that I reckon we can learn something from. I’ll be back with a few more over the next couple of weeks as the grandest cycle race of them all continues to play out.
Oh, and sorry about the crankiness that comes from lack of sleep. As I said, it’s not my fault.