Recently, I had a discussion with a friend who attended and played for my high school alma mater. He and I focused on one particular coach who kindly, but firmly, demanded the most from the positional players he coached. Our conclusion: no one is better at doing what he does, and guys love to play for him. The end result of that is a long list of players who went on to play that position in college.

The key for this coach isn’t his great personality (though he possesses that), or even his incredible knowledge of the game (also in his possession). The key to the success of this coach is the discipline and work ethic he requires from his players. His workouts even have their own nickname, a tribute to how difficult they are. Yet, the truth remains that players get better and love him in the process.

Proverbs 19:18 speaks to this–“Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death” (NASB). Coaches and parents, it’s time we get about fulfilling our responsibility to our players and children. Expecting nothing from them means they will get no better. Believing that misbehavior is “just part of growing up” is, as the proverb says, like signing their death warrant (a lack of discipline will prove disastrous in their lives).

The point here is not to come down hard on players and children, but to be sure we teach and model discipline. Clearly  there are times when punishment is needed, but in most cases, loving discipline and motivation go much further than punishment. Too often, parents and coaches wait until it is too late, when God calls us to do what we can “while there is still hope” the player or child can be molded and shaped.

Parents, if you love your children, guide them to disciplined and obedient living before their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Coaches, if you love your players, ensure that they walk away from your program knowing the value and pay-off of discipline.

If you don’t love them, ignore all of this completely.

Here’s a prayer:

Lord Jesus, show me how to lovingly discipline the players and children you have given me. I need your wisdom and determination to do it well. May I display to them the love and justice evident in Your character. Make me the coach/parent you would be for them. Amen.