Hard To Coach

by Tim Hall
Should players who don’t listen to their coaches ever play again?
basketball2.jpgIf you ask what is my favorite sport, I’ll respond in a heartbeat – college basketball. I’ve sometimes had interest in professional baseball, but nowhere near my enthusiasm for roundball. “March Madness” is a phrase I understand well.
A recent incident with my favorite team made headlines. One of the promising new players didn’t like that his coach sat him on the bench in the first half of a game. When the coach told him to return to the game in the second half, he refused. His pride had been injured and he chose to sulk on the bench for the remainder of the game.
What do you do with a player like that? Most coaches would teach him a lesson by keeping him out of the next few games. In this case, however, the coach met with the entire team. They asked the coach not to punish him, but to let him play the next game. That’s what happened, and the stubborn player had the best game of his young career. Many observers, however, voiced their disdain. He should have been benched for at least a game or two for the sake of team discipline, they argued.
Let’s shift our focus and talk about us. Would we not easily fit the shoes of a rebellious player? Though God directs us to avoid this behavior or to adopt that lifestyle, we don’t agree. Instead of submitting to the Lord’s game plan, we sulk on the bench.
What a merciful God we serve! Yes, he sometimes will resort to punishment of his rebellious children (see Hebrews 12:7-11). But there are many times when he forgives our offenses and immediately sends us back into the game.
The book of Jonah describes such a man. Jonah defied the order of God to preach to Nineveh and began running in the other direction. After contemplating his foolishness from inside the belly of a great fish, Jonah agreed that God’s plan was best. No period of probation was required. As soon as the fish gave him up, Jonah embarked on his mission to Nineveh.
Ephesians 4:32 urges us to recognize God’s patience with us, and to extend it to others around us: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (NKJV). As soon as we recognize our error and do what God has commanded to be forgiven, he sends us back into the game.
Jesus taught this truth. “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it, and went” (Matthew 21:28,29). Though the son was rebellious, Jesus endorsed his later actions.
*What about me? Am I difficult to coach?*

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