I watched the Major League Baseball All-Star game last night. I rooted for the American League and they lost. But that’s not the point. What hit (no pun intended) me last night was the fact that these baseball players were the best baseball players, the All-Stars from both the National and American Leagues, performing at what they do best, because they are the best; but still, despite their All-Star status, each player and each team had a coach! I believe too that all those All-Stars last night not only became the best at baseball, or any other sport you care to mention, because of certain physical and mental abilities, but also because they’ve had great coaches and coaching throughout their careers.
Growing up I played a lot of sports; youth leagues, high school, even some football at a small college. I was an “all-star” a time or two, but never made it to the level of those guys on the field last night. Not because I didn’t necessarily want to, but for other obvious reasons- I was good, but not that good! Interestingly, it has been the coaches in my life, the very good coaches, that helped me to see that; that guided me down a path of opportunity, that set me up for success, and not for failure; who ultimately enabled me to aspire for “greatness” at the level that I could be great at. I’ve tried to continue playing some ball throughout my adult life, however, in the past twenty years, I’ve spent less time playing and more time coaching- baseball, football, and even girl’s high school basketball! As a coach I’ve experienced the oftentimes mixed emotions of telling a player that playing for the UCONN Women’s Basketball team, a perennial top ranked team in the nation, isn’t a realistic goal considering their ability; however, aspiring to play for the local community college is a very doable ambition. It’s amazing how awesome these situations turn out to be! Obviously, coaching matters, and it matters a lot.
To me, a good, if not great coach, provides some of the following: A coach basically gives the individual players the opportunity to develop their skills personally and as a team. A coach provides instruction, but not so much that the players or team are constricted by it. A coach certainly brings a wealth of experience to the players and team. A coach encourages player and team leadership, ownership, and accountability. A coaches door is always open. A coach is a player’s and team’s biggest fan. A coach doesn’t coach for the money, but for the passion. A coach believes in his or her players and team more than they believe in themselves. A coach doesn’t promote rules, but relationship. A coach guides, directs, facilitates, resources, releases. A coach expects respect because they give respect. A coach is a coach both on and off the court or playing field. A coach teaches and listens. A coach promotes the team. A coaches connections are his players connections. A coach knows that their credibility comes from having played, but their player’s and team’s credibility comes from having a great coach.
That’s sports. But what about your spiritual life? Do you have a coach? A coach that is all about what’s described above? Because you need one, we all do. Get some coaching and be a coach to someone else- that’s how spiritual development happens best.