I hate losing. We had our first basketball game tonight and I can’t believe I’m admitting this on social media but… we lost 42-3. That is not a typo. I’m super competitive, whether I’m coaching or playing. I don’t even like losing in a game we play in my class called “Mum Ball”. I hate losing but I’m thankful the Lord has given me a vision over the past few years: There really is more to coaching sports than winning. No, I’m not just saying that because I don’t win much. It’s not something “losers” say. Even if I was a coach who had continuous winning seasons I would say the same thing. Victories can be off the court, too. As a coach, it’s one of my responsibilities to encourage these off-the-court victories. Coach John Wooden puts it this way in one of his books:
“A leader, particularly a teacher or coach, has a most powerful influence on those he or she leads, perhaps more than anyone outside of the family. Therefore, it is the obligation of that leader, teacher, or coach to treat such responsibility as a grave concern. I consider it a sacred trust: helping to model character, instill productive principles and values, and provide a positive example to those under my supervision. Furthermore, it is a privilege to have that responsibility, opportunity, and obligation, one that should never be taken lightly.”
At the end of the day, there are bigger things the players need to be learning; things that are more important than dribbling or shooting a basketball correctly. There are souls at stake and lives that need to be changed and influenced in the right way.
I’ve been coaching middle school basketball for five years now. And we’ve only ever won two games. Yes, two. Both of those were last season. So I’ve seen plenty of losing seasons. A lot of times people feel bad for me because of how much we lose. Would I like to win? Of course!!! Losing does bother me. But I’m thankful I know how to “lose properly”. I usually need a couple of hours, just for me to process everything, a time of reflection…
I’ve grown to realize that there are bigger battles being fought: The fight for lost souls. I’m very aware of the position I’m in and the opportunities God has given me. I try to model Christ-like love for athletes. Of course I fail at times… more times than I’d care to admit. And if my flesh is being honest, it gets hard. I have to constantly be conscious and purposeful about words I’m saying, things I’m doing, and even body language and facial expressions.
God cares more about the lives and souls of these young ladies than the wins and losses. You can win all the games you want to but if you don’t have Christ… then what? You can be the best player on the team but if you don’t have Christ… then what? You can have all the skills in the world but if you don’t have Christ… then what?
I’m thankful God doesn’t look at my win-loss record in basketball or soccer! When we leave this earth and go to one of two places, my win-loss record isn’t going to count for anything. It’s meaningless. There really is more to life than winning: A relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior; the greatest victory of all.
So yes we lost 42-3 today (cringe). But the big questions is, did I make a positive impact on my players for the cause of Christ? As a leader I have a responsibility to live and speak in such a way that my players can see the ultimate prize in life: Jesus.
Did they see the prize today? Hmmm… I can always do better. I’ll have to think about it in my reflection time, but I’ll definitely find out when I get to heaven!
Well, until next time…