Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coaching Staff and Sport Chaplain Expectations

A few weeks ago I heard this presentation from Southern Illinois University Head Football Coach, Dale Lennon, as he outlined the expectations he has of his coaching staff. I took notes and later thought how these same expectations could well apply to our role in serving people in sport. I hope these ideas enhance your ministry.

1) Know yourself. Strengths and weaknesses.

2) Never stop learning. Keep an open mind and be willing to take criticism.

3) Understand your role. We must all be pulling in the same direction. Be team oriented.

4) Control what you can control. Be positive. Be prepared. Be professional.

5) Know your players. Know their strengths and weaknesses. Build a relationship with each one.

6) Never allow or use excuses to justify failure. Take responsibility for your work.

7) Work smart. Be efficient with your work.

8) Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and rest.

9) Include your family in your job. Coaching is the family business.

10) Work the job you have. Don’t spend all your energy here pursuing your next job.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ministry with Coaches

Notes from a talk by Brad Long of Indiana FCA at the
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Sports Chaplain Conference in Kansas City, Missouri – February 2010

“What do I put on to serve coaches well?”

Colossians 3:8-15 (New International Version)

8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Put on:

Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, Patience


Confident, Caring, Courageous, Consistent

What to do?


Find a meeting place - off campus - to talk.

Be transparent.

Share from the overflow of your devotional life.

Offer them game day prayers (in person or via phone or text).

Offer accountability meetings.

Discuss your passions with each other.

Provide family functions.

Serve them.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sports World Values

Below are some notes I took during a talk by my friend and colleague, Ashley Null, at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Sports Chaplain Conference in Kansas City, Missouri in February of this year.

• “Success is just like drugs and sex in that it medicates our psychic pain and disappointment.”

• “Most champions don’t compete to win, because the rewards are so fleeting. They compete not to lose, because the pain is long lasting.”

• The world’s values for sport are clear:

o You are what you do.

o Your worth is based on your latest performance.

o The purpose of pain is to produce enough self-loathing to motivate one to further training, so as to win next time.

• Our ministry as sport chaplains shapes how our players and coaches handle defeat and success. It shapes how they perceive God in either case.

• We are called to communicate to the world of sport that our value is not based on our performance, but on the performance of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sports Liars

There exist in sport two liars of the highest order. They lie to novices and to sport's most highly achieving. They lie to both the obscure and the most famous. These liars fluently speak every language on the earth and deceive without conscience or conviction. They both whisper and shout with equal effectiveness. These masters of deception never tire, never take a day off and never worry about being caught. They monitor every practice, match, game and even one's most private thoughts and emotions.

Success and Failure lie to our souls about our identity, our worth to and our standing before God. Those who achieve highly hear Success's lies related to the unimportance of ethical issues, teamwork and character. Failure lies by stating that even one's margin of victory may be a failure because the spread is deemed to have been insufficient.

Both Success and Failure are measured by the World in terms of results as expressed in wins and losses, points per game, home runs, yards per carry, championships won, world records, batting averages, strike outs, earned run average, and on and on and on. Success and Failure speak truthfully about one’s performance. There is truth in their descriptions of the game’s final score and the endless list of statistics which accompany sports today. The problem for many of us is how Success and Failure spin those results into lies related to who we are and from where we derive our personal worth.

Success lies by inflating our sense of importance. It says, "I must be the best player on the court today." "My team could never do without me. I can do whatever I please." "I don't care what the others do, I will get mine today." "I must have God's favor because we're winning." It flatters us with words which excite our egos by reciting our accomplishments and comparing us to those lesser souls not faring so well. "My success is obviously the mark of God's approval." "If the Lord was not so pleased with me, I would not be winning like this." Success lies to your soul as it mimics the voices of sycophantic fans, hangers on, groupies and fawning media.

Success distorts the truth of our identity by telling us that it's to be found in achievement. Its greed is never satisfied. Success deceives our souls' sense of worth by whispering that performance makes us worthy of love and dignity; that losers are not worthy of such delights. It tries to convince us that wins are the indicators of a life in Christ. Lies one and all.

Failure's condemning voice whispers in our soul's ear, "You're not good enough." "You can't compete at this level." "You should just quit." "You aren't worthy to wear this uniform." Failure shouts at us when we're running on the pitch, "You can't guard this player, she'll embarrass you." It laughs heartily as we stumble and fall, the pain in our body echoing Failure's derisive comments.

Worse still are Failure's accusations that our lack of success is a sign of God's displeasure. "You must have sinned badly to have failed so miserably." "God is angry with you; that's why you struck out three times today." "A real Christian wouldn't play this badly." "Maybe God wants you to give up this silly game and get on with more important things." "If you were a better Christian, you would be more successful than this."

Failure assaults us in the condemning voices of the coaches from our past who used shame to motivate, our never satisfied parents or angry teammates. These voices remind us of our most bitter failures and disappointments.

Failure lies by distorting the truth of our unlimited value to Christ (Romans 5:8), our identity in Him (Ephesians 1:3-14) and our being totally without condemnation before him (Romans 8:1).

All these lies gnaw at our souls, impeding our progress as lovers of God and hindering our Lord's gift of fulfilling enjoyment of sport. Both Success and Failure speak these lies with equally damaging consequences to our hearts, minds and souls.

There is more wisdom to be found by focusing our hearts and minds on the process of training, competition, personal and team development in sport. Take care to listen wisely to the reports of success and failure. Understand that statistics, win/loss ratios and other measurements of sporting achievement speak truthfully about performance, but they lie about identity, worth and significance. These can only be found in an abiding relationship with Christ Jesus.