Leadership Lessons from My Dad: A Good Hand Is Made, Not Dealt

February 25, 2023

The card game of Rook requires you to look at the cards you are dealt, figure out how many tricks you can take, and come up with a bid (or the number of points that you think you are able to win). If you have the highest bid, you win five new cards to work with, called the kitty. You take those five new cards, put them next to the cards you were dealt, and discern which ones you want to keep and which ones aren’t going to be helpful to you.

This part of the game might be my father’s favorite. 

He looks at his dealt cards and makes a plan. Then he usually outbids his hand so he can get those five new cards in the kitty. At this point, his brain is whirring with possibilities and strategies. He knows that those five cards can completely change his hand. This is a thrill for him, and a skill that he has mastered.

You can bet he’ll still complain and say there wasn’t anything good in the kitty, or that he wasn’t dealt any good cards; but 9 times out of 10, he’ll make his risky bid and win the round. That’s when he pulls out his favorite phrase,

“A good hand is made, not dealt.” 

 Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

I’m wondering if you can see the leadership lesson yet? Our verses out of Hebrews will help us get at it, especially the second half of the verse that tells us: 

  1. We have all been given a race to run. 
  2. It’s going to be challenging and we’re gonna want to quit, so we’re going to need perseverance. 
  3. God has marked it out for us, so that’s the direction we’re going to want to go.
  4. We have to fix our eyes on Jesus while we’re running. 

Have I mentioned that I don’t like the word “perseverance”? There’s no part of that word that sounds like fun to me. But there is no shortage of truth about life in this verse.

As a Jesus-following leader, our need for perseverance that has its source in Jesus is one of those truths.

Following Jesus will require perseverance: perseverance to follow Him when we don’t know where he’s leading, perseverance to trust Him and not go off on our own, and perseverance to keep going when it seems the cards we have are not what we need. 

But the pioneer and perfecter of our faith doesn’t leave us stranded. (Remember… He gives us His power when we follow Him!) With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can find the courage to:

  1. Stop and figure out where we are, what we need, and what we have.
  2. Throw off what is keeping us from moving forward.
  3. Make a new game plan, take risks, outbid our hand, and get back in the race.

Take a minute to think back over your life and consider the hand you were dealt. Think about the things you’ve learned, the people that have mentored you, the risks you’ve taken… all the experiences that have shaped you.

These are your five new cards. Basically a whole new hand for you to play with and to take risks with…  because a good hand is made, not dealt.


Written by Trudy Ash

Regional Catalyzer – USA Midwest  

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