A Coach's Lament
by Jason Herbig, Rooftop's worship pastor
Some people have a passion for coaching. I am not one of those people.
I’m not overly athletic. I don’t have a knack for sports strategy. I haven’t really played anything beyond beer league softball in more than 20 years. But I love my kids. And I love other people’s kids. So I resolved to coach in whatever capacity I’m needed as my boys grow up. That has meant that I’ve served as head coach for my 2nd grader’s basketball team for the last two years.
Now I am a fairly patient and gracious person, but this particular group of boys has proven to be quite a struggle for me. I don’t want to speak ill or make rash judgments of them, because I truly believe they are beautiful children of God. I see so much potential in each and every one of them.
But here’s my problem. I can’t get these kids to listen. They don’t pay attention when I try to explain things. They don’t follow directions when I run drills or teach plays. They are prone to frequent manic outbursts. They show little respect for me, often openly mocking me when I try to show them something or give them advice. It’s obvious that they think they know everything, and they don’t need or want me to show them what to do. Infuriating, right? I would have never treated my coaches, or any adult for that matter, like this.
My small group has been reading Francis Chan’s “Forgotten God” and discussing how someone lives by the Spirit, depending on Him in every moment of every day. This is a difficult concept for me because I like to do things on my own. I rarely ask for help until it is a last resort. I tell the workers at Home Depot “I’m fine”as I stare blankly at the wall of choices with no idea what I need. Even as a child, I told my mom to stop helping me with my homework because I was supposed to do it by myself. So it’s no surprise that I don’t instinctively seek out the Holy Spirit’s help or guidance outside times of crisis.
This is the part where you expect me to tell you I’ve recently committed to relying on Holy Spirit and he got me through basketball practice, right? Well, not exactly. I have been challenged to seek God in my frustration, but he’s actually showing me something surprising. I am a 2nd grade boy. Ignoring my “coach.” Running around with my own agenda while the Holy Spirit stands on the court yelling to get my attention. Forsaking the benefits of working with my team (the body of Christ?) and trying to play the game by myself. Mocking the Spirit as I continue to choose my sin in spite of his conviction.
If any of us want to make a difference in the game, we need to listen to our coach and try to follow his game plan. Now if I could just get my 2nd graders to buy into that…