In ninth grade, I played on the football team. It was my first time ever playing football. I was a scrawny, little freshman on JV, trying to figure out how to tackle, learn plays, and how to hit a receiver in stride running a fade. At the end of every sports season, we would celebrate with an awards banquet. The awards banquet meant all the fall sports would gather together with friends and family and celebrate the past season, give awards to the Varsity athletes, and honor the seniors.
During the awards banquet, the varsity football coach got up and began giving his speech that would eventually lead into all the different awards. And he began to talk about me. Scrawny, freshmen, just learned to play football, me. And keep in mind, this is in front of my friends and my family and my teammates. And he began to talk about the beginning of football season and how I worked. I showed up. I showed up in early summer at a football camp, having never played a down of football in my life besides at recess. I’d never lifted a weight in my life, never learned a football play in my life. And I showed up and wanted to work and learn to play football. And he talked, in front of all these people, about how hard I worked.
Now when tenth grade football season came around, how do you think I responded when it was time to start putting in that work again? Do you think I just blew it off and said, “Oh, it’s really hard”? Do you think I sloughed it off and said, “You know what, guys, this is not this important; we’ll get to it in August when mandatory practice is starting”?
No, in tenth grade, I worked even harder than ninth grade because my coach saw something in me, and he pointed something out in me. In tenth grade, I wanted to work even harder at football. I wanted to live up to my coach’s expectations because my coach saw something, and he brought out the best in me. That’s what a good coach does. A coach brings out the best in his players.
“When you wake up”
The beginning of the day is a time when you get an opportunity to play the role of coach and bring out the best in your kids.
As a coach, you can look forward into the day with your kids. On the sideline of the day, with your arms around your kids, you can look at all the things your kids are about to face. You can point out the trials that they’re gonna face because you will probably know your kids schedule. You will have listened to them, and you know the troubles that they’re facing, and you can look forward into the day and say, “Here’s what you’re going to be up against today.”
As you prepare your kids for college, you can look forward into all that they’re going to go through, all that they’re going to face, and all the questions that they’re going to have. As your kids prepare to have families of their own, as a coach, you can stand alongside them and look forward to all the things that they’re going to face and not only do you look forward, but you can also point out the best in them. You remind them, “This is who you are. This is who God’s created you to be. And here’s what you’re going to face, but here’s what I know about you.”
Because as a coach, our job is to bring out the best in our kids. And the way we bring out the best in our kids is by loving them. Loving them for who they are and not what they do.
In our world, it’s so easy for our identity, especially our children’s identity, to get wrapped up in performance and in other people’s descriptions. And our kids’ identity gets wrapped up in their academic achievement, their athletic abilities, what their teacher thinks of them, what their peers think of them, whether they’re popular, or whether they’re picked on. As we become adults, and we start to figure out our career, our identity gets wrapped up in how well we do at our job, how well we climb the corporate ladder, how much money we make. It gets wrapped up in what other people think of us, what our spouse thinks of us, what our friends think of us, whether people like us or don’t like us.
And what we can do for our kids is we can affirm them not based on their academic achievement or their athletic ability, but on who they are. Because we love our kids because they’re our children. We love our kids not because of what they do, but because of who they are.
And as parents, you know your kids better than anybody else in the world. And so you, as a parent, can look at them and see the way that they’ve been uniquely wired. The passions, the talents, the gifts that God has given them, the way he’s knit them together in their mother’s womb. You can look at them and say, “You are God’s workmanship, and he’s created you exactly the way he wants you to be.”
As a coach, we can bring out the best. We get to stand on the sidelines of life and cheer our kids on, point out the schemes of the defense, and tell them we are proud of them.
What are some ways you can play the role of coach in your home?