Having coached sports for many years, it’s difficult for me to overcome my aversion to having coaches on the field while the kids play. Often I would see coaches pacing the sidelines as they yell at their players the entire game, believing they are instructing them, but completely distracting the players from having fun and enjoying the game. I often found that the players on my team were distracted by the other team’s coach instructing their players.
One time before a game a coach approached me and asked, “Will you be having coaches on the field?” Having developed a lack of appreciation for this coach’s style, I looked out on the field and saw my five players, then turned to him and said, “My ‘coaches’ are on the field.” He turned to me with a perplexed look, and I walked away with hopes that he would take the hint that I did not want him on the field.
The reason I had told him that “my coaches were on the field,” was because of the way that we design our practices, which includes a drill we call “stations.” Stations involve having our stronger players instruct their newer teammates on the way that things should be. Through stations, we’ve found that not only do the kids learn great skills, but it also teaches the more advanced players how to coach their teammates, and and how to build them up. This is very beneficial not only during practice, but even more so as they get older and and are presented with more “coaching” opportunities.
Our coaching staff is occasionally complimented for having built a good team, but we haven’t built a team at all. Instead, we’ve seen that we have an opportunity to build and equip our players to be coaches before they even have a whistle around their neck. It’s a great analogy for what God has called us to do. We think that God wants us to build a church or a Christian organization, but He has really called us to encourage others, and equip them for the things that He wants to do in and through them.
When I think about the way Paul explains our role as Christians in Ephesians 4:11-12, I have a great appreciation for what we’ve been called to do: Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. Someone once asked me to share what was the greatest thing I had ever built. I paused, and thought about all the incredible people that God has brought across my path. My hope is that when I am remembered as a coach and as a Christian, I won’t be remembered for what I have built, but rather as someone who allowed God to build up the people that He has put in my life. God has given gifts to each of us for the purpose of equipping others for the work that He has for them.
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.