In his incredible book InsideOut Coaching, Joe Ehrmann wrote about some of the coaches from his days playing youth league, high school, college, and professional football. His point wasn’t to criticize, but to be honest about the influences that had shaped him and, consequently, determined the type of coach he later became. It’s truly amazing to do that sort of historical analysis and introspection. Through such work, we begin to peel back some of the layers of our own character. In that quest, we learn who we are and why we do what we do. Along the way, we discover the good, bad, and ugly elements of our playing and coaching experiences, and we gain the knowledge necessary to change our current approach, if that’s needed.

Each Wednesday, I’m walking through my own journey to coaching on purpose. Honestly, I hope you’re tired of just going through the motions, mindlessly approaching the incredible calling of coaching young people. It’s my sincere prayer that you and I will do the difficult work of becoming and remaining the kinds of coaches God wants his creations playing for.

This week’s question: How were you coached?

Of all the questions I’ll ask you to consider in this series, this may be the most important. Some who are reading this, as Erhmann noted in his book about himself, carry scars or open wounds from someone in your past. That someone may be a coach. Conversely, some are incredibly healthy today because of the coaches in your life who coached with a greater purpose than wins and losses.

How were you coached?

Let’s go back in time…

Make a list of the coaches you remember.

Put them in two categories. “For me” and “From me.” In the “For me” category, list the names of the coaches who you believe were really in it for you, not for what you could do for them. In the “From me” category, list the names of the coaches who simply wanted something from you, like performance, wins, etc.

Which set of coaches have influenced you most? Be honest. It may be that you find yourself still seeking the approval of everyone around you because a coach only praised you when you did what he wanted. Or, you fear failure and letting people down because your coaches shamed and mocked you when you failed.

Which kind of coach do you want to be? This may be somewhat rhetorical, but it’s time to make a choice, to coach on purpose. If you don’t make a choice and become intentional, you’ll simply repeat what was done to you. You may look back and resent the “From me” coaches, but without intentionality, your players will one day view you the same way. Make a choice. Now.

What “From me” habits do you have currently? This may take some time. You will have to pay attention to yourself the next time you’re with your players. I’ll write more on this in a future post. For now, just pay attention and make a list. It might not be pretty, but it’s worth it.

What wounds in you need to be healed? This process might be painful for you. Memories of shame, humiliation, and constant striving for the approval that seemed just out of your grasp…they might come rushing back. Until you take all of that before The Lord and give yourself to a process of healing by the power of his Holy Spirit (and godly friends who really love you), you won’t ever be able to coach, and certainly not live, on purpose. It’s worth it. Go there. Then go directly to Jesus.

How were you coached?

It matters for you and for those you now coach.