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  • SOCO Coaches Playbook Guest Post by Tyron Wright

    We’ve all probably seen the athlete that’s given so many rules by a controlling coach that he cannot play freely. He is told a rule for every situation. He’s not allowed the creativity to let his gifts flourish and develop. Sadly, the shackles of an overly controlling coach may not only stunt a player’s growth, but also prevent him from playing with the joy the game was meant to bring.

    We talked at Coaches Bibles study recently about how we, in a similar way, can let fear and bondage keep us from experiencing the freedom we have in Christ as expressed in 2 Corinthians 3:17. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (NIV) Understanding that 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that God’s Spirit lives in us, I made the statement, “we don’t deal well with freedom.” Then I referred to the children of Israel longing to return Egypt rather than staying the course with God. Think about it. They were being oppressed and afflicted as slaves. God not only liberated them from this affliction, He provided anything and everything they needed and wanted. They wanted water, He brought it from a rock. They wanted food, He provided manna. They wanted meat, He made birds fly into the camp. Yet, they constantly longed to return to Egypt; slavery and affliction. They did not deal well with freedom.

    In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul was reminding the people that the Holy Spirit gives us liberty (freedom). He’s reminding them because they were being deceived into choosing the slavery and affliction of the old covenant. The old covenant’s only purpose was to show us we are sinners and couldn’t keep it all. And, we do the same things. For example, in our context of coaching, many coaches/athletes claim to be superstitious. We make ourselves slaves to a routine, a piece of gum, a lucky tie, or something of the sort. Or maybe we don’t claim a superstition, but if we lose a game, we think somehow we didn’t deserve to win because God was unhappy or dissatisfied with what we did or didn’t do earlier in the day (in other words, our sacrifice or obedience was not acceptable). We even enslave ourselves and our self-worth to our win/lose records. We don’t deal well with freedom.

    We don’t deal well with freedom because we forget what we are free from, and what we are free for. We are free from the bondage, slavery, and fear of having to adhere to a set of rules that only served to condemn us and prove we can’t ever keep all the rules (or satisfy all the people). Our human nature screams to our hearts that we must earn the love of God with good works, but God’s Spirit has given us freedom from works. We are free to grow into the fullness of who God created us to be without fear, and to experience the joy of being in relationship with Him. Of course, there are rules and routines we must adhere to for the sake of good order and discipline. But, if we can learn to deal well with our freedom, we will truly experience the fullness of joy that God has for us. As coaches, we will truly enjoy what we do and why we do it. And, our athletes will enjoy playing the game and working hard. That is true freedom, and that is God’s desire for us. Let’s be free.

    Guest Devo by Tyron Wright, former Air Force Academy player (’00) and coached 12 seasons on the Mens Basketball Staff at the Academy

  • Coaches Playbook: Rivalry

    “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4

    As athletes, coaches and fans, we love good rivalries. Some are so big that they have their own name.  College football has the “Big Game”, the “Civil War”, and many others. In in our area in Southern Colorado, the “Bell Game”, is a high school football rivalry that dates back over 100 years. We get more excited for these big games, the wins seem a bit sweeter and the losses stay with us a little longer.

    Reading the verse above recently caused me, as a coach, to re-think how I view rivalries. Does God really say not to do anything out of rivalry? Does that include how I get geared up to play the league rival?

    Certainly, it is OK to get excited for a big game and enjoy an annual battle between teams. But when does this go too far? For me, it is when it causes me to start wishing bad things for my opponent. Am I taking pleasure in their misery? Am I happy about anything that happens to them that will help our team win? Does the thought of their team losing bring a smile to my face?  Don’t get me wrong, I am not reducing my desire for my team to play well and win the game. The competitor in me won’t let me give anything but my best, and I think God would have it no other way.  

    The key is that I need to focus this competitive energy on my own team playing its best and on honoring the Lord. Sure, I want to adopt the best strategy that will bring success in the big game. Using the gifts  he has given me to bring glory to him is enough motivation to bring out my best, without a burning  desire to “stick it to my rival”. “God’s power working in me” (Phil 2:13) is what helps me give every ounce of strength that I can, that helps me play and coach unselfishly, respond correctly to officials, and other things that ultimately glorify God.

    I don’t need to direct negative emotion toward my opponent. I don’t need to try to stir up anger and hatred in my players to motivate them. I don’t need to be glad about an opposing player making mistakes or an opposing coach making a key mistake. On the contrary, I need to be thankful for the challenge brought by a quality opponent and the opportunity it gives me to rise to that challenge. That is what competitive sports is all about.

    The Bible says that God’s ways are not my ways. It also says that we will be blessed when we follow his ways. By faith, and by His grace and strength, I choose to approach the big rivalry game his way. I will give it my all by directing my heart to honor God rather than being fueled by hatred for my opponent.

    -Tom Dorman, Camp Director

  • Coaches Playbook: An Example That Lasts

    We talk a lot in FCA about the lasting and profound influence of a Coach.  If you have coached for awhile, you know you have the power to have incredible influence in your players lives.  


    But we also know that our competitive nature and drive to push our players to be their best can be a two-edged sword.  On one side, we push and stretch them to accomplish more than they thought possible.  On the other, we may wonder if we have gone too far.  Was I too harsh in my criticism?  Did my anger get the best of me and cause me to be too negative?  Did I blow my chance to positively influence a kid?

    Our coaches Bible study group this morning talked about a principle from Hebrews 13.  In verse 7, the writer encourages us to consider, not only the words, but the example of how our spiritual leaders live their life, and imitate their faith.   This challenged us to step back and look at the big picture in our coaching:

     ·         Do my players see a faith in me that they want to imitate? 

    ·         In the midst of planning practices, preparing for games, and trying to move up in the standings, am I taking time to build relationships with my players? 

    ·         Is my pursuit of excellence in our performance overshadowing my ability to love my players and display the grace of God to them?

     Take heart and realize that if you are following Christ in an authentic way, despite mistakes or misdirected words at times, your players will see this and have an example to follow for the rest of their lives.  That is the right kind of lasting influence.

    Coaching a kid for a few years goes by fast but our example can last a lifetime….and beyond.  

  • Turning Point

    You believe that God is going to do something, but He does not. What do you do? The medical test comes back with a result you did not want to see. Your one shot at the next level falls through. You lose that relationship. You thought God wanted to do THIS thing THIS way, and it does not happen.

    I thought I was going to be telling you a story about how God moved mightily at the college retreat in the hearts of the athletes that I get to serve. I thought they were going to encounter the love of Jesus there.

    I thought I was going to be telling you these stories, but I am not because none of it happened. None of these athletes ending up coming on the retreat. No hard feelings towards them, it just was not at all what I expected to happen.

    So what did I do? I beat on God's chest. I asked for understanding. He so very gently corrected me.

    As I sat at my desk, God reminded of the words that I used when I explained the retreat to the athletes. I said, "This retreat is FOR you, designed FOR you, to meet YOUR needs as a collegiate athlete."

    God revealed to me that somehow what was "FOR them" became about me... Me and my ability to hit a goal for participation, or make progress that I can see.

    In this moment of realization, I had a choice. I could allow this disappointment continue to be about me - me not hitting a goal, me not feeling validated, and me pulling down worth and value from "successful" ministry. Or, on the contrary, God could help trust Him for personal worth and value, and believe that He must have something bigger and better in mind.

    Bigger like freeing me from the self-imposed burden of producing ministry results. Better like receiving worth and value from being HIS CHILD. Bigger like a weekly team bible study launching just 7 days after this major turning point. Better like God giving me the right heart to SERVE the athletes in that.

    Today, that bible study is FOR them, and not about me.

    And that's way better.

  • I don't want to read my bible.

    Motivation. Sometimes it's just not there. You're scheduled for a workout, a practice, or a match. You couldn't get enough at one time, but right about now it's hard to muster up any kind of desire to lace up, strap up, and get out there.

    Sometimes what I need most is what I want to do the least. Lately, that something has been spending time with Jesus. Well, more specifically, that something has been sitting down, slowing down, opening an ancient book, picking up a pen, and talking in my head to an empty room.

    My motivation is low, and I desperately need a shift in perspective.

    When we sit down with the bible, we are not meeting with an ancient text, but the Ancient One. We aren't spending time with a book; we are spending time with a PERSON. When we pray, we aren't thinking or speaking to an empty room. We are communicating with a Father who loves us deeply and desires to speak with us. It's so much more than empty words read from a book, habitual prayers to pray, and journaling on a page.

    1. Have you ever faced a time when you weren't motivated in your sport?
    2. What about in your faith?
    3. How did God help you overcome it?

    Pslams 16:8; Psalms 73:25-26

    Father, help me to see you as the source of life, and not an addition to it. Please, change my desires. Help me want what you know that I need. I confess that earth has nothing that I truly desire besides you. You are my strength. Please remind me that I am meeting with you, not just reading an old book or praying to an empty room. Amen.

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