The Greatest Coach

The coach yelled, “Get off my field. You are a cancer!” How do you think that young high school football player felt? He has just been called a cancer. He has just been yelled at and embarrassed in front of his teammates. He has just been told "you are worthless to me". If you were his parents, how would you respond?

Now, I know football coaches and football players are supposed to be tough. Coaches talk to their players in a rough, coarse manner. They think yelling, screaming, and using vulgar language is motivating. They think telling a kid “you are a cancer” will motivate him to try harder. Such has been handed from generation to generation. It is excused as, “That is the way it is. It makes them tough.” I would suggest, “No it isn't, and no it doesn’t!”

Successful coaches are teachers. They teach their players the plays, but more importantly they teach them about life. Sports is a little microcosm of life. There is competition, adversity, opponents, scrapes, bruises, successes, and failures. That’s life. But the good coaches don’t yell, scream, and berate their players. A coach who is invested in his players would never call a player a cancer. He would pull him aside and teach him what he did wrong. He would make corrections so the player would understand. Yelling accomplishes nothing but showing the "bravado" of an adult over a child. Yes, sometimes teaching involves persuasion, but it is not belittling. It is not demeaning. Yes, sometimes teaching involves straight talk. Showing the wrongs and instructing the rights. But it is never off-putting.

The greatest coaches like Tom Landry, John Wooden, Tony Dungy and legendary Texas football coach Gordon Woods were coaches who invested themselves in their players. There was no doubt that they cared for their players. They weren’t coaching football, they were making men.

While we may not think of Him in this way, Jesus Christ was the greatest coach and teacher. Did He rebuke? Yes. Did He correct? Yes. Did He challenge? Yes. When Peter disappointed him, did Jesus ever call him a cancer? When Phillip was too busy counting beans to see the people, did Jesus call him dumb? When He called on Saul of Tarsus, did Jesus ever tell him He hated him? You may say, “Well, that was not football.” Wait, football is nothing compared to making disciples of Jesus! Jesus was not making men tough. He was making them more like Him. Those who followed Him walked like He walked, lived like He lived. Loved like He loved. Stood up for what was right and stood like He stood. Jesus was the master coach.

So, we must ask ourselves as we interact with others (especially those younger than us): are we trying to make them tougher in life, or make them more like the Master? Which will make them more successful in life and in eternity? 

“More like You, Jesus more like You! Fill my heart with Your desire, to make me more like you!” ("More like you, Jesus more like you" by Scott Wesley Brown)

Rickie Jenkins