I had the opportunity when I was a teacher to coach high school girls fast-pitch softball. There are many blog entries and themes that I could write about from those 9 years as a coach, but there is one lesson I learned that has carried over to many other areas of life…the best coaching is done from the dugout. Let me explain.
As we painfully watched the World Series Title slip away from the Cleveland Indians, and if you are a Tribe fan, I am sure there were times that you were yelling at your TV loud enough to make sure that Manager Terry Francona knew you did not approve of what he was doing. I am also certain there was plenty of “instructional advice” (coaching) that was spewed when Napoli swung at another ball, or Shaw was struggling to find the plate. We all become experts when we are spectating. We all want to express our frustrations about what is happening in the game, and many times this “coaching” is done on pure raw emotional response. I believe that in the midst of the conflict (or game if you will), we would do much better to shout nothing but encouragement, and leave the coaching for the dugout.
I did my best to keep my emotions in check when I was a coach. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times when an emotional response can fire up a team, or also let them know you mean business. But, in the ups and downs of competition. In the 3 up 3 down innings and the 15 up and 3 down innings, I always had more success when I could keep the balance between intensity and emotion.
So, how does this apply to real life. I believe as Christians, we are given opportunity after opportunity to “coach” others. It is formally called discipleship. The idea that you are so invested in another person’s life, and their spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional well-being, that you intentionally make time to be a part of their life. The key is that you don’t just yell from the dugout, and instruct them on all the things they are doing wrong. In fact, I would suggest that you never call them out publicly, but rather, wait until they get in the dugout. Encourage them to no end while they “are out on the field.” Maybe even call timeout, and have a short talk with them. When they get to the dugout, pull them aside, and do the coaching part. Don’t let it go. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Don’t let your disagreement with their behavior get in the way of your relationship with the person, and the fact that you have been placed in their life to walk them through the tough times of correction. That is what coaching is all about.
Jesus prayed in John chapter 17 and told his Father that He had glorified Him here on earth by completing the work God had given Him to do. He then respectfully asked that God would restore Him to the “majesty and honor in His presence that He had before the world existed.” (vv.4-5) Wouldn’t it be great, if on that day when we finally get to meet Jesus, we would be able to stand before Him and say, “With your help, I was able to do what you asked me to do.” We, all too often, feel incapable. I believe we need to trust God, more than we trust our feelings. Let’s not stop short of finishing the work He has given us to do.
Who are you coaching? Who is coaching you? Come on into the dugout. There is so much to learn.