“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
– 1 Peter 5:2-4 (ESV)
Coach Art Baker was an “influencer.” As a very young and inexperienced football coach I met Coach Baker and immediately knew there was something different about him. His welcoming smile and caring personality pulled me in. Why was this college head coach taking so much time with a rookie high school coach? In time, I came to understand that’s just who Coach Baker was. He genuinely cared about and loved people. He was a very successful high school coach and went on to become head coach at Furman University, The Citadel and East Carolina University. He also served as an assistant at Clemson, Texas Tech and Florida State. Coach Baker had a passion for football, but his greatest gift was making everyone around him better. He was a master story teller, always welcoming an audience who would listen. Coach Baker was a “giver”. He loved his Lord, he loved his family and he loved his friends. He loved his wife “Mrs. Edie” for 70 years and when you saw them together, they were probably holding hands. Coach Baker had the opportunity to “shepherd” many young men in his career. He always did it with great integrity and character. Thank you Coach for being an influencer in my life.
1 Peter 5:2-4 is guide for Christian leadership. Peter is addressing the church elders and encouraging them to lead well. He is teaching them an entirely new method of leadership. Peter urges them to follow Christ as their example of true leadership. He gives them four building blocks on which to build their leadership model. “Christian leaders are called to be… (1) a minister to the people—Peter exhorts them to shepherd their flock, serving them before being served; (2) a mentor of the people—Peter asks them to eagerly invest in the flock, not as lords, but as examples; (3) a manager of the people—Peter calls them to exercise oversight over those entrusted to their care; (4) a model for the people—Peter tells them to be examples to the flock, demonstrating how to live.” (The Maxwell Leadership Bible) Serving in positions of leadership can be lonely. It can be a thankless task. But know that a special reward is promised to faithful leaders and servants of the Lord. Well done Coach Baker!
Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for the life of Coach Art Baker. His legacy is one of love for You and those he influenced. I thank You for his great example and unwavering friendship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.