Years ago, during my time as an undergraduate student, I chose a major in secondary education. I wanted to coach, and teaching was the most obvious route for that pursuit. Idealistic and green, I truly believed that I could help anyone and everyone. And did I ever try. I tried with my students, with my players, and with fellow coaches. The goal was simple: love them like Jesus loves them and shape their lives forever.

The painful reality I learned: Coach, you can’t help everyone. Not everyone wants help.

Proverbs 9:7 puts it this way: “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.”

It was tough when players didn’t desire the instruction (on and off the field) I wanted to give. I didn’t like it when I got weird looks for the way I lived, talked, and operated. It killed me when a player kept going down a terrible path, despite efforts to help him see the light.

Some people are, as the verse says, “scoffers,” meaning they are arrogant and unteachable. They ridicule anyone who believes them to be otherwise. They have the world by the tail, believe they know it all, and no one can convince them they’re wrong.

Others are “wicked,” whether they know it or not. Sure, I know it’s not popular or politically correct to say something like that, but it’s true. Scripture makes it clear that some people love sin and will hear nothing that contradicts their choices.

The coach who attempts to teach the unteachable or argue with the completely hardheaded…well, he’s in for it.

Here are a couple of pieces of advice.

First, learn which guys are the scoffers, those that are unteachable and unwilling to hear anything that contradicts their desire for complete autonomy from any authority. Ideally, you would be such a gifted communicator that such guys would sit at your feet and soak up every word from your mouth. Realistically, what they need is a complete heart change from Jesus, and that’s something you cannot provide. So, pray for them, love them, but don’t expect to be their savior.

Second, if your efforts to help players or coaches are met with only insults and ridicule, consider yourself blessed. Jesus said it best in the Sermon on the Mount: blessed are those who suffer for his sake. Press on. Stand firm. Keep on loving. Keep on letting Jesus live through you.

Lord Jesus, help me to love the unteachable and the hardheaded, but help me to know my limitations. I pray for their salvation…they need you! Amen.