I don’t make it a habit to threaten the guys I coach. However, there is one topic I’m willing to threaten about. It regards the one thing I believe coaches and teammates should never tolerate.
A player who treats his parents like garbage should face stiff consequences from his coaches and teammates. It’s simply not acceptable. It’s one thing, perhaps above all others, that should never be tolerated.
We all know why it happens. Perhaps the parents aren’t really that worthy of respect. Perhaps they’ve made life difficult on the young man. Perhaps they’ve dropped the ball and haven’t cared for him. All those things, and a thousand more, are reasons to justify treating parents poorly. Even so, they are no excuse. Such reasons can only be rationalized and justified.
Proverbs 19:26 puts it in plain terms: “He who assaults his father and drives his mother away is a shameful and disgraceful son.”
Read that again. It leaves little room for rationalization and justification of poor treatment of parents. In fact, it leaves zero room.
Here are a couple of ways to ensure that such things aren’t tolerated on your team.
First, recognize why it’s important. The way young people treat authority, namely their parents, speaks volumes about their hearts and about their futures. The way young people work through what is unfair to them (perhaps poor parenting) is vital for their development. I’m not saying that poor parenting or harsh treatment of young people is OK, only that those young people will always face poor and harsh treatment in this world. If their only default response is to return evil for evil, what a long and difficult path that will be.
Second, recognize that there are often no reasons whatsoever for young people to treat their parents like garbage. Many times, it a show of what they perceive to be manly (i.e. jettisoning authority and acting as if they are independent). Most parents are loving. Most parents who are ridiculed by their children for merely being imperfect (aren’t we all?). So, coach and teammate, refuse to tolerate speech and behavior that demeans parents for no reason.
Third, enforce consistent discipline for the young people on your team who refuse to respect their parents. Coach and teammate, you are responsible for the culture you create and perpetuate. Make yours a culture in which parents are valued, listened to, loved, and accepted by coaches and players alike. Yes, some make this more difficult than others, but the responsibility remains.
Fourth, refuse to be silent or pile on when the negative parent-talk starts. If you’re a teammate, tell your friend to shut up or take it somewhere else. Better yet, remind him of his responsibility to authority, regardless of how he feels about it. No, he won’t like it, but at least you won’t be facilitating his sin. If you’re a coach, create a behavior code that includes clear language about how parents will be treated. Then, be willing to have your players dislike you for the penalties they incur for they inappropriate ways they talk to, treat, and disobey their parents.
Lord Jesus, this is a tough one. Develop in me a respect for parents, regardless of who they are and what they do. Help me respect them out of simple obedience to you. Make ours a team culture that is unique in this regard. Amen.