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Archive for May, 2013

Finding Comfort in Troubled Times

Posted by admin May - 28 - 2013 - Tuesday 1 COMMENT

I’ve had people say to me (and I remember thinking to myself at one time!), surely St. Paul was too spiritually mature to every feel downcast or afraid?! Wellllllllll…. apparently not!

The chief apostle and leader of the New Testament church experienced discouragement, stress, restlessness and even fears. Listen to these words from Paul in the Book of 2nd Corinthians: “When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn’t settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out.” (2 Corinthians 7:5-6 from The Message translation) So, where do WE turn for strength in our times of trouble? Let me suggest some ways that God, through The Comforter (His Holy Spirit), sends us comfort and encouragement:

1) He comforts us by His presence. In 2nd Thessalonians, it says: “Now may… God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing.” You need to know that it’s God’s nature to be with us, to be for us, to never leave us nor forsake us! He provides comfort when we’re mourning, brokenhearted, overwhelmed, worried or sick. But… we must acknowledge His presence and accept His comfort.

2) He comforts us by His Word. The Bible is a tremendous place of comfort. God speaks to us through His Word. I remember when I unpacked my stuff on the first day of pre-season practice my freshman year in college. I was putting clothes away from my suitcase when I came upon a Bible. (By the way, my Mom packed my suitcase for me!) I opened the Bible and found a note my Mom had written to me. It said, “Lewis (she never called me Lew!), you’re going to face some struggles in the next few months. Turn to God’s Word for comfort and reassurance.” About a week later, homesick as I could be, I remembered those words and found that Bible. Opening it, I began to read. I’d like to tell you that I was inspired and everything became better. Unfortunately, because I was NOT walking with the Lord at that time, what I read in that Bible made NO sense… no sense at all! I tossed it aside and didn’t look at a Bible for another 14 years! When I accepted Jesus as my Savior and decided to begin a personal relationship with Him (as the Gospel of John says, I was “born again” from above), everything changed. When I opened the Bible after that change in my life, it made complete sense. My Mom died about 7 years later. I found great comfort in reading God’s Word then.

3) He comforts us through our prayers. Psalm 138 says, “The moment I called out, You (God) stepped in; You made my life large with strength.” God is waiting for us to turn to Him in prayer. He wants us to bring Him our worries, fears and doubts. He’s big enough to handle all of them.

4) He comforts us through godly friends. I spent a couple of hours with one of my players this afternoon. He had just lost his grandmother. Quite shook up over her death, he shared with me some of the things he was feeling and experiencing. He was trusting enough to share with me about an incident where he knew God was right there with him when he was feeling the severity of his loss. I shared with him how God is a God of comfort. That God is right there with us in our troubled times. I am praying for him and his family that they let Jesus wrap His big, loving arms around them in this time of grief and loss. I hope that I brought him a measure of comfort.

Today, look for those in your life who bring comfort and… practice comforting others.

Season Slogans

Posted by admin May - 23 - 2013 - Thursday Comments Off on Season Slogans

I love it when God “sneaks up” on me and confirms that He is right here in my life and never lets go of me!!!

I had decided on a slogan for our 2013 season about 2 months ago. One of my assistant coaches and I were talking and he told me about a slogan that he saw on a t shirt that a friend of his at West Virginia football had worn. I thought it “fit” our team and our season extremely well.

That is the KEY to selecting a slogan— IF you are going to select one. It needs to be appropriate for your team, your program and… where your program is at the moment. This is going to require some thought. If you’re going to have a season/team slogan, it’s going to be publicized. It needs to encompass what your philosophy, goals and general perception of your upcoming season is all about.

For example, if you’re in a struggling program or you are rebuilding. To come out and say: “State Champs or Bust!” is not exactly appropriate! But to say something like: “Keep Climbing the Mountain” or “The Road to Success is Paved with Hard Work”— those are examples of something you can continue to hold up in front of your guys as you persevere through the season.

Our situation is different. We had a very successful season last year. We made it all the way to the state championship game. We lost that game but… we only had 4 seniors on the team. In the vernacular of the game: this season, we are loaded!!! With nearly all of our starters back, hopes are high! In fact, the talk sounds rather cocky. “It’s in the bag. We got it this year. Nothing can stop us this season. This is our year.” I love to have kids with positive attitudes but… you have to be careful that the optimism doesn’t overflow into full-blown pride. Thus, our slogan for this season.

What that nice “God confirmation” that I spoke of at the beginning of this was a discussion I had with our pastor over coffee (welllllllll… hot chocolate for me!) the other morning. He was talking about our church and its growth we’d had the last year and commented that he’d read something recently from a pastor near D.C. His sayingfor his church in D.C. is: “Stay humble… Stay hungry!” WOW! THIS is our slogan for this season!!! It’s what I call a “God-incidence”— not a “co-incidence.”

We will challenge our guys to stay humble. We haven’t earned anything yet. We’ll have to work for it. Plus, now we have a “target on our chest!” But while staying humble, we have to stay hungry. Our preparation begins in 2 weeks when we start our pre-season lifting and conditioning program. I don’t want to extinguish their enthusiasm. At the same time, we’re going to make a pact not to discuss anything but getting ready for our opening game.

The healthy Side of Competition

Posted by admin May - 14 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off on The healthy Side of Competition

This conversation came up recently. The guy wasn’t “challenging” me; he just really wanted to understand. “Coach J., how can a Christian man like you advocate the nature of competitive sports— particularly football with all the violence?!” I kinda muddled through an answer. I found a better answer this morning as I read my morning devotion from The Word For You Today.

When you hear things like, “Nice guys finish last” or “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing”— how do they make you feel? The sentiments in those statements and those like it characterize the state of our society today. They promote a workaholic lifestyle that can adversely affect our health, our family life and wreak havoc on the spiritual discipline needed to have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Soooooo…. what do we do?! Do we avoid all competition? Stop trying to win? Opt out of the race althogether? NO!!! There are some things that a follower of Jesus Christ CAN and should do:

1) Beware of competitiveness that leads to jealousy. In the Bible, Cain’s competitiveness toward his brother Abel led him to murder his brother in a fit of jealousy over what each brought as an offering to God. (See Gen. 4:1-8) Cain made the classic response: He put his “opponent” (his brother!) down in order to build himself up! King Saul became so wrought with jealousy over the adulation shown David that Saul tried to kill David numerous times. Saul’s jealousy grew like a cancer in him.

2) Understand that by seeking to excel in your calling, you exalt Christ! Paul writes in the Book of 1st Corinthians 9:24-25, “You’ve… seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win! All good athletes train hard… for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.” What’s Paul saying to those of us who are Christian coaches or players? Don’t give a second-rate effort. Don’t settle for mediocre results. Paul continues, “I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me. I’m staying alert and in top condition.” That should be how we play or coach our sport.

Getting ahead of others is NOT what it’s all about! It’s about maximizing all you have and all you do— for the glory of God! Jeffey Marx noted in his book, Season of Life, that Coach Joe Ehrmann’s concern about how we are training boys to be men in our culture is that there’s too much comparing and competing. And it starts as early as the playgrounds of the elementary schools. What we’re trying to say here is: the competing part is fine— IF done in the right spirit. It’s the comparing that gets us in trouble. It comes down to your definition of success. I think Coach John Wooden had it right! Success is (I’m paraphrasing) “peace of mind…. knowing that you DID your best to BECOME the best you’re capable of being.” The only person you are competing with is yourself. Strive to be the best you can be and use it as a platform to proclaim how much you love the Lord!

Transactional or Transformational Coach?

Posted by admin May - 7 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off on Transactional or Transformational Coach?

I am still processing all that I learned at that F.C.A. Conference in Baltimore that I wrote about here last week. WOW!!!

Another speaker we had is someone I have admired for 5-6 years— since I read Jeffrey Marxx’s book, Seasoon of Life, about this man: Joe Ehrmann. I bought Joe’s new book while at the conference and had it on my bedside table ready to pick up and read soon when…. a coaching friend emailed me to say he had just finished one of the most important books on coaching that he’d ever read. It is Joe’s new book: InSideOut Coaching! With THAT endorsement, I had to start it last night. I only got through the Intro and first 2 chapters but it’s already had a profound affect on me. God used that book to encourage me to get up at 12:30 am last night and email one of my players. The player has been dealing with some issues and God put it on my heart to send him a note of encouragement. Being “led by the Spirit” is what the Bible says. Joe’s book was what God used to get me out of bed and writing!

The question he poses in the Introduction is what my title is today: Are YOU a transactional coach or… a transformational coach? I’m hoping I can entice you to get a copy of the book so you can read in more depth. But… I want to challenge all of you to be “transformed” yourself and become a transformational coach. Joe points out the power that coaches hold over players— the influence that we have. He talks about his coaches and whether they were “transactional” (thinking of their own ego first; “using” players to meet their own needs) and led by the belief system of “coach first, team second and player’s growth and needs last, if at all, were their modus operandi.” Is that YOU???!!!

Transformational coaches, on the other hand, use their influence to help bring about positive change in their player’s lives. Sure, they want to win but not at the cost of ruining some teenager’s self esteem and/or concept. He says that transformational coaches “use their power and platform to nurture and transform players.”

This has reallllllllllly struck a cord in my heart. It is really what this blog has been about for a long time. If you’re a Christian, impacting your player’s lives for Christ. If not, still having your player’s interests at the forefront of your coaching. I have been around BOTH types of coaches (played for some and have coached with some) and I want to tell you— if you’re not a Transformational coach, you need to take a hard look at your motives for coaching.

I’ll close with one question that Joe Ehrmann posed during his talk and I’m sure he’ll go into more in the book as I get into it. The question is: “What does it feel like to be coached by me?” Almost all of us have played a sport somewhere along the way. You have memories of that coach and have probably thought about what it felt like to be coached by him or her. Turn that around and do a little self-examination and ask yourself the question that Joe poses. Then go buy a copy of the book and… read it!

Character Coach or Team Chaplain

Posted by admin May - 1 - 2013 - Wednesday 1 COMMENT

I just returned from Baltimore. I was there for a regional Fellowship of Christian Athletes-sponsored conference on training Character Coaches and Team Chaplain. Great time and great material!

Rod Hairston, the Balt. Ravens Team Chaplain, was the keynote speaker. We also had Joe Erhmann speaking to us on coaching from “the inside out.” I recommended Jeffrey Marxx’s book about Coach Erhmann to you a few months ago. Now, I want to recommend Joe’s new book entitled Coaching From the Inside Out. I bought a copy at the conference and am looking forward to pouring through it.

I want to encourage those of you who are coaches out there (HC’s in particular) to prayerfully consider getting an FCA-approved Character Coach or Team Chaplain for your team. There was testimony after testimony from high school and college chaplains about the fabulous work they are doing with players at both levels. Contact your local FCA rep. and tell him/her that you’d like to talk about getting a character coach or team chaplain on your staff. If you care about your players’ minds and spirits as well as their bodies, then you need to get FCA involved on your campus and more specifically on your team!