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Good coaching

The Life Less Traveled

June 10, 2015
You don't know how good your coach is until you lose.

On a recent Saturday, my daughter lost her soccer game, 0-6. Not 3-4. Not 1-5. 0-6. It was raining. It was freezing. And the other team killed us.

My wife sent me to deliver the team snacks after the game, so I was right there when the girls came off the field.

The first thing the coach did was pull his team into a huddle and say in a gentle voice, "I do NOT want you to become discouraged over what happened today. I love you, and I'm proud of you." He went on to explain that they'd just played the toughest team they'd compete against all season, and that there were some things they could learn for the next game.

I already liked this guy, but now I loved him. In fact, I choked up a little hearing him talk to my daughter. There was something about his words and the kindness in his voice that so clearly reflected the heart of God.

Later that day, I found myself talking soccer with a cashier who was ringing me up at the grocery store. She told me that she had two boys who used to love to play soccer. But their coach was nothing like my daughter's.

The way she told it, he was a total jerk. Every time the kids would make a mistake, he'd start screaming at them like a drill sergeant. Keep in mind they were 8 years old, not exactly heading to the World Cup.

This coach didn't help his team improve. He just told it how bad it was. Eventually, the cashier pulled her sons off the team. Who can blame her?

I think some people give up on God for the same reasons. They see God as a hothead. Critical. Angry. Always disappointed and disgusted by our failure.

But when you look at the life of Jesus, you'll see a very different view of God.

When Jesus met a crook named Zacchaeus, he invited himself over to the guy's house for dinner and gave him a new life. When he met a woman caught in a sex scandal, he stood up for her and offered her a fresh start. When his best friend said he didn't even know Jesus, Jesus forgave him and invited him to lead the church.

Like I said, you don't know how good your coach is until you lose.

For the losers in the Bible, and for all of us who mess up our lives today, Jesus offers hope. He invites us to huddle up and listen to the words of a great coach, "I do NOT want you to become discouraged over what happened today. I love you, and I'm proud of you."

By the way, not long after that post-game huddle, my daughter won her first game. That's what good coaching will do.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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