Baseball in my house never ends, but we recently completed my son’s first season of machine pitch baseball. I’ve reflected a bit on what I learned through it all. Here’s the first lesson:
I had the great privilege of playing for my dad nearly every year during my youth baseball experience. He was my coach until I got to high school. I praise God that my dad was my coach and not someone else (there were guys I would have hated playing for). I also thank God that my teammates got to play for my dad. As a coach, my dad was firm and had high expectations, but he never forgot that he was first a man of God. His walk with Jesus spilled over into his coaching. The players were treated with dignity and respect, even if they were not talented or interested. Obviously, from a baseball standpoint, certain players played more because of their skill level, but those who played less were not somehow less than human.
I saw that in my dad and learned it firsthand this year coaching my own son. Coaches hold the hearts of players in their hands. Coaches have been entrusted with these young players and have the responsibility to be concerened with far more than the game. It’s tempting to focus only on winning and losing…I’m guilty of that quite a bit. But, it’s far more valuable to win the heart of a child than to win a game of baseball.
It’s fitting that I write this on the day our community buries a youth baseball icon, Kevin Lamb. I’m relatively new to the area, but had the privilege of getting to know Kevin on and around the baseball field. His life was far to short, but he gave much of it to the boys who played for him over the past 25+ years. Last night, I stood in line at the funeral home with many people who were touched by Kevin, the coach.
Coaches, you matter. The question is, when it’s all said and done, what will you matter for most? Will it be wins and losses? If that’s all you desire, don’t count on there being lots of former players lined up at your funeral home visitation. Die to yourself. Live for Jesus Christ. Pour yourself out in service of others. I hope you’ll be a coach who matters for that.