Soccer Lesson

I had a revelation of sorts tonight. A good illustration. A lesson learned. It was on the soccer field….with a bunch of 5 yr olds.

Like every parent and every coach and every relative watching and instructing the game, I was barking (nicely I’d like to think) orders to the kiddos. Encouraging them to get aggressive. To stay with it. To get in to position. To kick it in the goal! (I’m an assistant coach and lovin’ it—well, sometimes.)

It was about mid way through the 4th quarter that I had this “huh, it is just like that, isn’t it?” kind of moment. We were getting clobbered by a much better team and I found myself getting quite frustrated. Yeah, I know, don’t say it. I say it plenty to myself. “They’re just 5.” And you’re right. I do everything I can to suppress (over and over and over) my competitiveness, and remember the big picture.

So in that moment, toward the end of the game, I asked myself, “Why are they not listening? Why are they not running? There are plenty of people instructing them where to go and what to do.” The answer was simple: They didn’t learn it in practice. We didn’t really do a good job showing them how to spread out or pass or turn the ball well.

And in that moment I compared that with following Christ. Specifically, passing that following on to our kids. I think the average approach (that I find myself in quite often) is yelling from the sidelines. We are encouraging them to do the right thing. We want them to succeed. We want them to trust this Jesus that we are entrusted to. We want them to discover God’s best. But in those gametime moments, when character and faith are tested, what will they have to recall? Will they be able to pull up illustrations from memory? Times when they saw us illustrate a Biblical principle? Did we ever intentionally teach them “in practice”? Here’s another one: Did we just leave it up to the church?

And for those thinking it: Yeah, I know, this is oversimplified. I know it’s more than, “Oh, just teach your kids right and they will not fail or abandon their faith.” We all know the stats on that and what kind of enemy we are up against. But I know for me, next time I wonder why one of kiddos is just not listening or just not making the wise choice, I’m not just going to simply pass it off as them just being a kid or the rebellious spirit. I’m going to look for those teachable moments and first place the responsibility back on me – what have I taught or showed or lived out in front of them that would help change the current situation?

p.s. Back to the competitiveness stuff: Sorry other coach, you can’t sub when my goalie is holding the ball. I may have informed him of that tonight. 🙂
(In a “bless you brother” kind of way.)
🙂

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