Coaching and Preaching

Everybody on this side of the ball needs to drive his man to the sideline, and everybody on this side of the ball needs to drive his man to the other sideline!

As much as I tried to explain, they just weren’t getting the concept. After a few repetitions it still wasn’t clicking, so I went to the only metaphor that came to mind.

This middle return needs to open up like the Red Sea!

Then it hit me. Most of these guys probably had no clue what I was talking about. I’m not coaching in the Bible Belt. Instead I’m coaching in the Rome of Portugal where a Hail Mary takes on a totally different meaning.

So, I stopped and asked if they had any idea what I was talking about. Two guys out of 22 blurted out Moses, and then laughed about how much they paid attention in Catechism class.

Apparently more than some guys were paying attention to my explanation of the finer points of punt returns. That was about six months ago.

IMG_0507Last week Dusty Renfro, former University of Texas and NFL middle linebacker, came all the way to Portugal to preach the gospel.

For the fifth year in a row, Renfro came with his pastor and a bunch of friends to tell the growing American football community here that football is not the most important thing on this earth….faith in Jesus is.

I had the privilege to attend the camp again this year, but with 8 of our Maximinos Warriors, instead of the one that came last year, and I loved every minute of it.

I loved that I heard one of the coaches tell the wide receivers that if they were going to run a corner route, to be successful against the defensive back, they’d need to press his inside shoulder so that he would turn his shoulders up field, allowing the receiver  to break open outside. My guys already knew that.

I loved it that Coach Billy Mathis of Aledo, Texas has run a variation of the same offense that we run and that he incessantly thanks the Lord Jesus for the opportunity to coach football. We’ve got more than one thing in common.

I loved it that Greg Anderson, who, a few moons ago played tailback at Central Michigan and bounced around the Arena Football league, stood and told everybody at camp that he lived a life wrecked by sin before trusting Jesus. I loved it with a broken-hearted love when he finished his testimony with a smile on his face by saying that he was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and may only have a few months to live. Rather than sitting at home fretting over what he’s going through, he chose to come to Portugal and teach young men about Jesus while teaching them the game of football.

I loved it when a bunch of guys got around him and prayed for God’s healing and at the end when everybody in the room said, Amen.

I loved it when I could sit down and talk missions philosophy with Coach Gib, a hall of fame high school coach in the state of Oklahoma with forty years of experience, who now serves as the missions director in his local church. I loved it when his eyes brightened as I asked him how important molding young men’s lives was to him, and I loved it even more when he invited me to visit him next summer in the States.

I loved it when I heard that at least 5 young men prayed to receive Christ.

IMG_0509It was one of the coolest weeks of my entire life, mostly because the line between coaching and preaching stayed mighty blurry.

No, I know they’re not the same – coaching and preaching, but one of the greatest coaches ever, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant thought they had similarities. He once said, “Mama wanted me to be a preacher. I told her coachin’ and preachin’ were a lot alike.”

He was right. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past couple of years of trying to do both (preachin’ and coachin’), it’s that both professions, both callings, involve a tremendous amount of teaching.

One might carry a Bible and the other a clipboard, but either one worth his salt wants to see lives transformed and molded into something more. Much more.

Sure, some preachers only concern themselves with fannies in the pews, and some coaches with Ws in the win column. I’d be lying if I tried to tell you that’s not true, but the good ones…the really good ones look far beyond that, and when they focus on Him, wins and losses or sheer numbers don’t matter that much at all.

Yep, when put into the proper perspective, coaching and preaching are a lot alike.

  • Steve M

    The joy of teamwork and growth in football seems like an echo of what the church community is (or should be). And winning on the field is a foretaste of the great victory that we can participate in… “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

    • Michael

      Very good analogy, bro. May He shine through us in this dark world. We need to get together soon.

%d bloggers like this: