As I look back on my coaching career, there’s one moment that stands out in my mind that most people probably won’t remember. On a lacrosse field full of kindergarteners in our hometown, was a life lesson that I’ll never forget.
It was the last game of the year, and I was feeling hopeful that we’d see a lot of the lessons our team had learned throughout the season played out on the field. As the game grew old and time ran short, the score became tied with only one minute left on the clock. We knew that the game would end quickly, and as the referee began counting down the final ten seconds of the season, our best player streaked down the field with the ball in possession. With five seconds left, he wound up to shoot but instead threw the perfect pass to one of the least skilled players on the team. As the ball hit him square in the head and flew straight in the air, the last seconds of our season ticked away. The ball rolled innocently behind the goal and the game ended in a tie.
At first, there was only silence while everyone looked at each other. But then, I erupted in shouts of enthusiasm that the team hadn’t seen before that moment of the season. I ran onto the field, and with all the joy that I could muster, commended our best player for throwing a pass that we all knew was unlikely to be caught. Instead of shooting to win the game, he had chosen to pass up the spotlight and act as a team player; an even greater victory for our team. Although there was temporary disappointment over the tie for both parents and players alike, I couldn’t have been more proud of my team and the decisions they had made on the field that day.
So much of sports today can become too focused on winning, statistics and accomplishments. But the real opportunities to teach our youth important life lessons can happen when the outcome doesn’t go our way. While our lacrosse team didn’t score the winning goal, they learned how to work together as a team. Just as we face disappointments in life, we can be successful in honoring God with small, quiet decisions that may not be fully awarded by the world and can be overlooked by others.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
– Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
It’s amazing to see how God can bless us when we continually strive to please Him with each small decision and how our hearts can be changed when we bear the fruit of a life that finds success in His eyes alone. If you’re reading this blog on a day that seems normal or uneventful, know that there are countless little ways that you can demonstrate your faith and trust in God throughout the mundane or disappointing times. While no one else may see these moments, just as I was the only person celebrating the greatest tie ever, we know that God is overjoyed when we strive to please Him.
Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
More information can be found at FCA.org.