“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’” — Hebrews 12:5-6
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As a high school basketball coach and school administrator, I am sometimes fortunate enough to be a part of conversations where parents, alumni and students share their life stories, both good and bad.
Sadly, not long ago, I was a part of multiple phone calls where three stories of coaches ruining sports for players were relayed to me all on the same day! The stories included older players and younger players. They included players who excelled in their sport, yet were ready to quit playing because of the verbal berating of coaches.
It reminded me as a coach to somehow always be mindful that words matter. Even at the highest levels, the event is called a “game” and players “play” their sport. Perspective — we, as coaches, need it. It was said in Hebrews 12 from the greatest Coach and Disciplinarian of all time, God Himself, that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves” (v. 6) and that “God disciplines us for our good” (v. 10).
Sometimes, being coached or disciplined hurts and can be painful. However, if we take time to read further in that famous passage on discipline and coaching, we see the words, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (v. 12). In addition, we read, “God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (v. 7).
All of these words come from the most widely-read coaching manual in the world, the Bible. What if coaches at every level, from little league to the pros, embraced the Biblical concept that, “I am going to coach every one of my players as if they were my own son or daughter?” Yes, they would challenge them because they want the best for them, but they would also see them as more than just another player. They would be mindful that they are people too, with feelings and limitations.
Perhaps the most well-known visual of that concept has been the NBA’s Doc and Austin Rivers — Doc was the head coach and Austin a player for the L.A. Clippers for four seasons. (Doc is now coaching in Philadelphia and Austin playing in Denver.) It can be done. Imperfectly, of course, but it’s a great reminder to everyone, regardless of whether you are a coach or not, that words really do matter!
— Frick Frierson
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