If you've coached soccer for longer than five minutes, at some point you've felt the sting of a loss.
Yesterday was one of those days for a travel team I help coach. I had an amazing father's day weekend with my family. The highlight was our year-end tournament, at which we made the championship game. It's extra special for me because my daughter happens to be on the team as well. It's time we get to share experiencing the game we both love.
When the final whistle blew, the scoreboard said 1-0, but not in our favor. We had played exceptionally well, with a lot of quality chances to finish. It was just one of those games where we couldn't push the ball over that little white line at the end of the field. You know, the days that feel like there is cellophane over the goal? One of those days.
As our players began to walk off the field towards us, eyes started to water. And it was in that moment, and many others like it, that we...as coaches...have a tremendous opportunity.
It's not easy.
We can't change the result.
But we can focus on what truly matters most.
Use the platform of a tough loss, to gain perspective.
I've started reading the book of Esther again. I'm reading it in the "Message Version". In the introduction section of the book, Eugene Peterson says something that I think is incredibly profound.
"The Book of Esther opens a window on this world of violence directed, whether openly or covertly, against God and God's people. The perspective it provides transcends the occasion that provoked it, a nasty scheme to massacre all the exiled Jews who lived in the vast expanse of fifth-century B.C. Persia."
I know it's Monday morning...and I don't mean to get super-deep on you...but I needed to share that with you so that you had context of what I am going to say next.
As coaches, we deal with wins and losses on the field. But what we are truly charged with goes way beyond that. From on the field, to in the classroom, to in the community locally and globally. We are charged with raising up leaders of the next generation. Part of raising up leaders, is helping them understand how to navigate the times when the scoreboard isn't in our favor, the exam results were less than favorable, and the events that take place around us that are nothing short of tragic and deeply hurtful.
The shootings in Charleston, SC recently speak to the last part of what I just mentioned.
So how do we do it?
How do we raise up leaders,
when adversity hits us in the emotional mouth?
On the field yesterday, we told our players how proud of them we were. We lost the game, but the perspective of how they played mattered more than one outcome on one day. Because how they played is creating who they are. Who they are drips into more of their life, than 60 minutes on a soccer field.
In the classroom, we can help them focus on the task at hand as the breeding ground for the opportunities in their future.
And in our communities, we can help them lead as the leaders in Charleston, SC are leading today. My heart is burdened for the families who lost loved ones. And I can't help but notice the incredible stance they are taking in response to what happened.
Love. Forgiveness. Grace.
As coaches, we get enamored with records and results.
Sometimes we have to slow down long enough
to realize why we are really here.
The perspective "it" provides transcends the occasion that provoked it."
it = a loss of any kind.
transcend = to rise above the hurt
the occasion = in a moment
The perspective a loss of any kind provides,
allows us to rise above the hurt in a moment.
And before I leave, please know I am in no way comparing the events in Charleston, SC to the loss of a soccer match. What I am saying is that the honor we have as coaches to shape the hearts and minds of the next generation shows up everywhere.
On the field, In the classroom. In our communities.
To build on something that hurts today,
so that people know the only one who can bridge that gap for them.
After all...I can't think of anyone who used the platform of a loss any better.
What does it really mean to be a "team"?
To build something greater than us, requires a non-negotiable move to make an investment.
An investment requires a deposit,
and a deposit requires a sacrifice.
We have to do without a part of us, so that it can bring a greater return outside of us.
Is there a risk in investment?
So how do we reconcile the risk? How do we calculate if it's worth it to be that vulnerable?
When we invest in a person, or a team, how do we trust it's the right decision?
Here's the thing...
We weren't called to pre-determine the outcome, just invest in the relationship(s).
Outcomes known ahead of time remove the strength that the journey provides on the way.
Jesus offers us a relationship with him, knowing full well we will let him down at some point. Think about that for a minute. He knows it will happen, and he still does it freely.
If he can do that for us, who are we not to do that for one another?
We are hard-wired to do life as a part of something much larger than ourselves.
When we do?
Victory is sweeter.
Defeat is more bearable.
Questions have answers.
Grief has company.
Adversity has support.
The list goes from being a personal point of pain, to becoming a collective opportunity.
The upcoming season is just around the corner.
What is your intentional plan to invest in the relationships on your team?
Every relationship that is authentic, starts with a deposit.
That is a sacrifice worth making.
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