Jeff Saturday, the Colts center and one of the leader’s of the NFL Players side in negotiating an end to the lockout, credited Robert Kraft, Patriots owner, for being the most influential owner. Kraft’s wife suffered from cancer during the entire negotiations and recently died.
I believe there is a relationship between Kraft’s wife’s illness and his influence and leadership during the lockout. Imagine the intensity of those negotiations and how easy it would have been for players and owners to withdraw emotionally or become unwilling to listen and acknowledge the other side’s needs.
I suspect that Kraft possessed an extraordinary amount of humility, empathy, and other-centeredness from attending to his terminal wife that broke down barriers and kept the talks moving. I’m reminded of God’s prophets and how each of them possessed a deep empathy for those they were seeking to influence. None of them were delivery an intellectual diatribe but instead spoke out of a deep and profound awareness of the other’s core needs.
An illuminating quote from an espn article:
Earlier, Kraft had apologized to the game’s fans for the lockout, showing an understanding of the frustration many endured over the past five months, before promising that the sides had struck an agreement that will allow football to grow over the next decade. He also tossed a zinger to politicians in Washington, saying, “The debt crisis is a lot easier to fix than this deal was.”
I’ve written in my old blog about the power of pruning; as God supernaturally brings pain into our lives, it stretches our ability to allow others the freedom to express sadness, anger, and differing opinions without judgment. Because of the nature of his wife’s illness Kraft had no choice but to walk through the pain, but as ministry leaders we can intentionally partner with God in stretching our capacity to allow others room to be different:
Without a commitment to embrace pruning both personally and in our leadership context, it seems that we should be content with mediocre spiritual fruit.–my post on The Lost Art of Pruning
The expression and body language of Saturday in the video shows beyond words how much he appreciated Kraft. I’d love to be able to allow empathy to flow out of me in ways that cause that type of influence!