“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:13
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Years ago, I was coaching a Pop Warner football team with my friend, Mike. We were playing the team we were tied with for first place. I asked Mike to start the game as our coach on the field, calling plays and adjusting positions.
The other team scored in the first half, and things didn’t look good for us. At one point Mike asked me to take his place, hoping a different viewpoint on the field might help. Somehow, the very first play I called led to a touchdown. Mike had called that same play, but this was just the right time, I guess.
The remainder of the game was back and forth, but neither team scored again. We got the ball again with only about two minutes remaining and I was thrilled. We were leading 7-6; we scored our extra point and they did not.
So I called a quarterback sneak to run out most of the time. When I called the same play again, the boys in the huddle looked confused, but ran the play. Then I called another quarterback sneak and they all started looking around at each other. I barked, “What’s the matter with you boys? Run that play.” Then my son said, “Dad, aren’t we even going to try to win the game?”
I looked up at the scoreboard and the score was 6-6, not 7-6. Scoring our extra point only existed in my mind. I called one last play in a desperate attempt to win the game. We gained a lot of yards, but didn’t score. Time ran out and the buzzer sounded. The game ended in a tie.
I apologized to the boys over and over. Their parents were nice enough not to tar and feather me. My wife told me the people in the stands were calling me every name imaginable. One of the referees, who was my friend, walked over and asked what happened, so I explained. He chuckled and said, “I started to wonder what in the world you were doing, but thought you knew what you were doing.” My son had to go home with the dad who was the winner of the “Idiot Coach” trophy. I never felt so dumb. I let the boys down, Mike down, the parents down, our sponsor down. We might not have won, but not even trying on those last plays? Unforgivable.
Over the years since that night, I have noticed that my criticizing of coaches and their decisions has diminished significantly. Most of the time now, I’m the one in the stands encouraging coaches, even if I think their decisions are dead-wrong. That night has reminded me over and over again of the importance of extending grace, kindness and understanding to coaches, who are trying their best and who make mistakes.
It has also helped me to do a better job of practicing Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
I hope you never have a night like I did. But I do hope God will bless you with something that will help you to extend grace to others, even when they are making mistakes. Often, they feel worse about their mistake than anyone. Extend grace and take them out for a cup of coffee or a soft drink. That encouragement might be just what they need.
— Mike Sublett, Pastor of Hi-Land Christian Church, Pampa, Texas
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