Watching Liverpool become Premier League Champions so emphatically this season, despite the impact of coronavirus, has been inspiring to many. The key figure behind so much of this success has arguably not been one individual player but the manager Jürgen Klopp. As a church leader I’m wondering what lessons there are from his leadership.

I wonder how much is motivated by Klopp’s faith in Christ, because these hallmarks of Liverpool Football Club are without doubt a biblical framework that we, the church, are working on.

Klopp invited one of the world’s best surfers, Sebastian Steudtner, to training to help the players learn how to calm their mindset’ – focus and believe for more (some of them were able to hold their breath under water for up to three minutes by the end of it). The team found that they were better equipped to perform under stress. 

It’s interesting that one of the verses for the church in this season has been Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The stillness leads us to Jesus and to a place of security in the midst of the coronavirus waves. He calms us in the fear, He gives us hope in the storm; we don’t focus on the problem but like Peter (Matthew 14:30) on the one who reaches out, lifts us up and says again and again, Do not be afraid” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Klopp’s team speak fondly of their manager. They are clearly affirmed by him, thanked and known. There is obviously a great sense of unity and community at Melwood training ground, not just between the players, but every person working and serving is affirmed and valued. Everyone in it together’ seems to be the mentality, with all equal and valuable, working as one towards their goals. 

I wonder how much is motivated by Klopp’s faith in Christ, because these hallmarks of Liverpool Football Club are without doubt a biblical framework that we, the church, are working on. We long for that sense of togetherness (Acts 2,4), every gift valued, every player in the body affirmed and known – the unity (Ephesians 4) and participation of each person (1 Corinthians 12), all on course towards the same goal: to win the prize that God calls us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). I’m personally challenged to thank and encourage more, to keep meeting together (Hebrews 10:25), praying that we would form loving community that honours every part. 

Jurgen has hand-picked his team. He saw potential others missed in Sadio Mane at Southampton and has enabled him to fly at Liverpool. Alisson was on the radar as an emerging talent but is arguably now one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Klopp had a sense of what would work, how it would work and who to partner with who on the pitch. He seemed to see something from a distance and then lean in to build an incredibly diverse team. 

The fans watched from afar too, trusting him, as the players did, that there was a formula for potential success at work. The early church consisted of ordinary men and women who, empowered by the Holy Spirit, became a family of disciples all united and connected in their skills, gifts and talents. Nehemiah involved everyone in building the walls of Jerusalem, and my prayer is that the Lord would raise up more leaders in His church who keep building the network of relationships, knowing who to bring onto the pitch, in order to bring in the catch that we long to see. 

You’ll never walk alone’ couldn’t be a better anthem to sing, and Klopp himself loves it; but for us evangelicals, it’s more than just football – it’s our whole lives lived alongside the King of kings. My prayer is that we partner with Jesus, loving Him and loving one another in a supernatural way, that we bear witness not just to human success but heavenly acclaim, as we see His kingdom come and will be done in ways we never dreamt or imagined.