These words that I am giving you today are to be
in your heart. Repeat them to your children.
Talk about them when you sit in your house and
when you walk along the road, when you lie down
and when you get up.”
– Deuteronomy 6:6-8
I have always had a fascination with baseball parks. Over a lifetime of attending games on every level, I have never seen two ballparks exactly the same. This makes every game unique and sometimes leads to some very unusual and entertaining developments. Distances down the first and third base lines can be vastly different and sometimes the walls jut out in all kinds of unusual angles. The home team usually fields balls in the corners and off the walls routinely while the visiting team makes enough mistakes to fill a “blooper” segment for ESPN. How often have we seen a runner thrown out at the plate because the home team’s catcher knew how to play the strange hop off the backstop? Baseball has remained basically the same game over the years, yet every game is different and exciting in its own way. The ball can take some crazy bounces and the home team usually has a huge advantage simply because they know the details of the ballpark.
Have you ever considered that, as coaches, God expects us to establish a “home field advantage” for our athletes? Think of the unending opportunities we have to develop our athletes spiritually and provide them with a place to receive encouragement and support. Deuteronomy 6:6-8 talks about the heart of a father, but I think it applies just as much to the heart of a coach. If we want to give our athletes an advantage and put them on the right path toward God, we have to be willing to walk the pathway ourselves. Example is more powerful than words! Our players need to see us following God as we talk to them about doing the same thing. As coaches, we need to be involved in their lives and have our eyes open to look for those “teachable moments”. It’s our job to coach them, but it’s also our responsibility to love them and be their biggest fan. As coaches, we are preparing our athletes for something much bigger than a game, we are preparing them for life. Like baseballs, life often takes crazy hops and if we teach our players to love, obey and serve God, it will make an eternal difference in their lives.
Thank You Father for putting me in a position to impact the lives of others. May I never forget the opportunity You have given me to impact my athletes for eternity and not just for a season. Amen.