10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…1 point down. 3 secs to go. 1 shot left. Who do you look for? That’s your clutch. The player who’s willing to take the last shot of the game. Who’s the best clutch of all time? Larry Bird, according to the bleacher report. Some Pastors and some Christians are great clutches in their churches. They don’t just take the easy, early-game shots. They don’t run from pressure. They are willing to risk their reputations in high pressure situations and challenging crises. Every Church should have a clutch. Should every Pastor have a clutch elder? Or should every Pastor be a clutch?
Paul Sullivan is a business columnist for The New York Times, and author of Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t. He’s identified five traits found in clutches in every walk of life.
1. Focus. This allows you to block out everything that distracts from your goal. It is not to be confused with concentration. Focus is a laser beam; concentration is merely a flashlight.
2. Discipline. This allows you to stay the course under pressure and is always an internal battle.
3. Adaptability. Colonel Thomas Kolditz describes this as “fighting the fight, not fighting the plan”. In other words, don’t let your ego stop you from abandoning the wrong course of action.
4. Being Present. This helps you respond to anything that comes your way. It also keeps you from thinking about a past failure or the expected glory if you succeed.
5. Fear and Desire. These two emotions are axiomatic to military leaders. In business, the desire for success mixed with the fear of failure will keep you on track under pressure, particularly for entrepreneurs or leaders trying to take their division or company in a different direction.
He also identified the three common personality flaws that surface under extreme pressure and cause people to choke.
1. Not taking responsibility for your actions
2. Being overconfident
3. Over-thinking your role in a company or society.
The encouraging conclusion of Sullivan’s research is that “the traits of clutch performers can be learned.”And one of the keys is practice. If we do our normal work (including studying/preaching/counseling/decision-making) at a high level every day, then we’ll be ready for the “clutch” when the pressure’s on – whether it be the 3am phone call, the church business meeting, the death of a member’s child, the disintegration of a Christian marriage, or the need to challenge sin in the church.