My playing career ended in 1999, followed four years later by the end of my “official” coaching career. At age 26, I was “out of baseball.” Two amazing things have happened since then. First, my love for the game has grown exponentially, particularly with the arrival of a son who loves the game, too. Second, I have learned more being out of the game than I did being in the game. The second one is what amazes me most.
Here’s what I’ve learned being out of the game: I don’t really know that much about the game. I have so much to learn. There are so many people who know more than me. I’ve learned about hitting by watching the best hitters in the game. I’ve learned how better to evaluate a player’s performance by listening to people who do it for a living. I’ve learned that some statistics are very misleading and others are more indicative of true greatness.
I’ll be honest, it took me several years to get to the point of being willing to learn. I began coaching immediately after I quit playing. All I wanted to do was impress my players and fellow coaches with how much I knew. I never stopped talking during the four years I coached. And I didn’t learn a thing. Since then, I’ve done less talking and more reading, watching, and listening. And I’ve learned a ton.
Proverbs 18:2 has something to say about this: “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind” (NASB).
As a young coach, I was, like many reading this, foolish. I still have those tendencies today, but I’m learning that wisdom comes from listening, watching, and reading. In the past, I simply wanted to “reveal my own mind” to anyone who would listen. I still struggle with that, but this Scripture helps ground me in reality. Maybe it will for you, too.
Whether it is in athletics or, more importantly, in your spiritual life, I encourage you to talk less, listen more, be humble, receive instruction, and keep learning. God is not done with you as a coach or as a follower of Jesus. If we get to the point where we believe we have cornered the market on coaching or on Christianity, we reveal our foolishness and need to again “delight in understanding.”
Here’s a prayer for those who struggle with this:
Lord Jesus, you know me well. Take my desire to impress people with my knowledge and kill it. Make me humble, willing to learn, eager to listen, and hungry to grow. Teach me as a Christian and as a coach to delight in understanding, not just in expressing my own knowledge and opinions. Amen.