Podcast Season 2, Episode 2.
In this episode I take a look at respect in sports and coaching.
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
For the sake of this blog all of my posts will relate to coaching sports teams, even though this passage of Scripture (and all Scripture) is useful in all areas of life. Just because I write with a certain audience in mind, doesn’t mean you can’t take this Scripture and let the Holy Spirit transform another area of you or your life.
I think the Holy Spirit is a good member of the Trinity to remember when we read and study Scripture. I’m going to share my opinion and thoughts, but ultimately the Holy Spirit is our guide and our Present Teacher. When we study Scripture let’s make sure we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to come and teach us and help us to relate what we read to our lives.
There are two things from today’s passage that I want to mention.
As someone who needs his quiet and space, I appreciate that Jesus needed his space as well. In verse 12 we read that when Jesus heard about John he withdrew. Elsewhere in Scripture we see Jesus either withdrawing, or going off by himself (or with his disciples) to pray and spend time with God. In today’s Scripture we see that Jesus withdrew to Galilee.
We aren’t told what Jesus did there, but we do know of the different places he lived and visited. Part of the reason for his withdrawing was to fulfill a prophecy, and I have to believe that another reason was to just get away and rest. As coaches I think modeling rest to our athletes is a good idea. Of course you have to be under the belief and understanding that athletes, no matter their age, can’t train year round without taking breaks. As coaches we can model rest in our own lives by how we scheduled periods of rest into a balanced routine, and we can also schedule rest for our athletes during and out of the season. If we don’t our bodies and their bodies will break down and we won’t be able to “perform” at a high level.
I think that Jesus’ withdrawing also shows that He knew Himself well enough to know what He needed to do to recharge. I know in my life there needs to be a good balance of activity and rest. Even in busy seasons of life this is possible, and we constantly need to be reminded that it is okay to take care of ourselves and slow down every once and awhile. Or slowing down might just be for a moment, but sometimes a moment is all we need.
In verse 17 we read that Jesus began to preach “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Another thing I like about Jesus is that His message never changed, from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry. Jesus knew His mission, He knew what the task at hand was, and He set out to do it. I can appreciate Jesus’ unwavering pursuit of His mission, as He desired to reach people with the grace, hope, and love that we experience through our salvation in Him.
A couple of things here. 1) As Christian coaches we have the same message to share as we point the people in our spheres of influence to the hope and truth of Jesus Christ. This is pretty simple and everything in our life, including our words and actions, can point others to Jesus. 2) Jesus never wavered in his message. I wonder how this relates to us as coaches? I think this might mean that when we have a philosophy that we believe in, stick to it. I also think this means we are consistent in what we teach, how we discipline, how we encourage, how we interact with players, how we treat the officials, and more. Consistency is important as we work with and seek to have a positive influence on the lives of young people.
I know here in Idaho that fall sports seasons are getting started in our public and private schools around the state. My prayer is for there to be opportunity for young people to experience the greatness of sport and sportsmanship, while learning and having fun, building relationships with their teammates, and learning about Jesus or growing in their commitment and relationship with Him. My prayer is similar for coaches.
Thanks for reading. Have a great day.
Here is the link to my newest Coaching Like Jesus podcast “Sphere of Influence.”
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Because of a job change giving me less flexibility and time in my schedule my availability for coaching youth sports has decreased. I’m still the pastor of my church on a ¼ time basis while I also work full-time as the manager of two local organizations. Because of these changes I am having to say no to some of the opportunities I have had as a paid coach, and will do what I can in a limited role and on a volunteer basis.
In all of this, and in a creative way to continue to be involved in coaching basketball and track and field I have spent some time reflecting on the state of youth sports and culture in the United States of America and around the globe, and my own coaching philosophy and desire as a coach.
My goal is to post a written blog twice a month, and a podcast twice a month to share these reflections as I process the part of my story which involves coaching. Given my track record with both of these mediums we won’t celebrate until we see consistency.
I was at a track meet a couple of weeks ago to watch my youngest son and track enthusiast run. A friend of mine was picking up hurdles towards the end of the meet and I passed him as I was on the way to see my youngest get his medal for the race he had just completed. As my friend and I engaged in conversation he asked me if I wanted to help him pick up the hurdles.
After my lack of a favorable response he asked, “What would Coaching Like Jesus do?”
“Probably go take a picture of his kid receiving a medal,” I replied, feeling a little like a jerk, but not enough to make me help with the hurdles.
I was glad moments later when I saw that the hurdles had been picked up.
“What would Coaching Like Jesus do?” is the question that I would like to try and answer in my written blog posts and in my blog. But the answer goes beyond sports as well as I have already mentioned in previous unread blog posts. How does this question apply to other areas of life? As a parent? As an employee? As an employer? As a spouse? As a friend? As a …. whatever it is you are and do. “What Would Jesus Do?” was a popular question from the book “In His Steps” by Charles M. Sheldon, and the question is still relevant to us today as we seek to follow Jesus the best we can.
This is what I am going to reflect on and explore. We will see where the journey takes us.
2 months ago I started writing a weekly devotional for this blog, and then after a few weeks I abruptly stopped. I’m hoping to pick this routine up again, although I can’t promise anything. Now that I’m in the off season I should have some more “free” time to write.
On Wednesday mornings I participate in what we call Wednesday Worship. We gather at 6:00 am with a cup of coffee in our hands to study the Bible and to pray. This time is a blessing during the week for me. This morning we were in Colossians 3.
Here is some of what we read.
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
As coaches working with young people we are to take these virtues with us and live them out as we interact with players, coaches, referees, and parents. Our identity comes from being holy and beloved children of God. Out of this relationship we are to know and practice compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossians 3:14 “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
While this statement is not unique to me, I will continue to share that our number one job as coaches is to love our players. We need to “put on love” every day. If we are able to “put on love” all of the other virtues from Colossians 3:14 (and others) have opportunity to shine.
Colossians 3:20-21 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.”
As I read this I changed the words to allow them to emulate the relationship between athletes and coaches.
It would then read something like this … “Athletes,obey your coaches in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Coaches, do not embitter (provoke) your athletes or they will become discouraged.”
Just like in the relationship between parents and children, I believe the greatest responsibility here relies on the coaches to live lives worthy of respect and being obeyed. Young people see right through phony, and won’t obey (nor should they) or follow people they don’t deem worthy of their respect or obedience. So, coaches let’s live, act, and talk in such a way that our athletes will respect us and want to follow our lead. Perhaps, even seeing us as mentors and role models in their lives. Let’s make sure we encourage, support, and love the athletes entrusted to our care.
After I finished sharing my reflections yesterday I knew I still had a few lingering in the archives of my mind waiting to be processed. So, today I will add them to the list. Most of the reflections are from track, but I will also add a few from basketball. I shared reflections after coaching the 7th grade girls team in the fall, but because of busyness and a day off before track started I never shared reflections from the 8th grade boys basketball season.
Once again I offer these reflections from coaching very humbly, recognizing that they are my thoughts and reactions and not necessarily anybody else’s. I also recognize that I think about and take a different approach to youth sports than many other people. I don’t always share the thoughts behind my reasoning, and maybe through the course of this blog I will some day, but don’t always feel the need to express myself. Perhaps, in these lists you will get a glimpse of where I am coming from.
I’m an assistant coach for the Homedale High School and Homedale Middle School Track and Field teams. We run a combined program with all of the coaches coaching specific areas in both programs. This was our third year running the program this way, and even with turnover in our coaching staff this year, everything seems to be working really well.
This is my fifth year coaching track and field, and this year I added coaching the sprinters to my job description, while I also focused on the jumpers. This last weekend we competed at the Idaho 3A State Track and Field Championships and had our best showing as a program in the past 5 years. The boys team took 5th out of the 21 schools competing, missing 4th place and a trophy by 3 points. This was accomplished with 5 boys. The girls team took 6th place out of 21 schools, competing with 8 girls. You can find results from the meet here.
I would like to share some of my reflections from the season, the state track meet, and my coaching experience in both basketball and track and field. I share these reflections humbly as my opinion knowing full well that I think differently than others do about coaching and working with young people. These reflections come after observation, thought, prayer, interactions, reading, and conversations.