I’m the head coach for a youth football team—my youngest sons are on the team. Everything is going great, except we don’t have as many wins as we would like. When I say we don’t have as many wins as we’d like, I mean that we don’t have ANY wins. We are 0-6.

Other than winning, everything really is going great: kids are having fun, they are learning the game, and several of them have made new friendships and are hanging out with one another outside of football. I have a great bunch of coaches; while we want to win, we are still having fun. I haven’t heard any complaints from the parents—but I’m not holding my breath on that!

This week, we are playing the best team in Orange County. They have three players over 6’2” … and 220 pounds. Remember, this is youth football; these players are only 13 years old!

Did I mention that I lost my quarterback last game? And that I lost my backup QB the week before that?

My two sons know we are playing a tough team. They had two very different responses. Miller said, “Awesome, bring it on.” Mac (sweet Mac!) has been moved to tears four times in the last three days. Tonight, at dinner, he said, “How can you say everything is going to be ok?” I had no idea what he was talking about—then I saw the tears welling up, and I knew what he was talking about. After a little bit of silence, Mac said, “I just want to win a game.”

Since we’ve lost so many games, I’ve given the “difficult times build character” speech a dozen times. Each time I’ve related sports to “real life,” the lessons learned on the field will translate into facing difficulties at school, friendships, family, and eventually, work.

Since I was with just my kids, I was able to talk about perseverance from a spiritual perspective. I wish I could say my wisdom made everything better—it didn’t. I wish I had an answer that was funny, clever, and life-changing—it wasn’t.

They listened, but they didn’t get it. Not yet. So, I must be content with being a planter of seeds, praying that God brings growth.

Lemme shift gears for a minute. Honestly, as the leader of this team — and as a dad — this isn’t easy for me either. If only I called better plays, ran better practices, and inspiried the players to reach new heights! I want to give up and crawl into a hole! I have a friend who’s been a varsity football coach for a number of years, and I’ve been commiserating with him each week. After my third loss, I said, “Would anyone notice if I stopped coaching?” He said, “Jesus would know.” After my fifth loss, I said, “All I am doing is making mistakes, ” He texted back, “It sucks that the mistakes are always the things we remember. That’s what Lombardi said made him stop coaching.” I wish I didn’t focus on my mistakes–I can confidently say this is the only thing I have in common with Lombardi!

Life lessons for the kids, and for the coach.

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