Call Me Coach: Winning Starts at Home @TimPopadic

If you have children you are no stranger to the countless items that children will ask of you or roles that they expect parents to play in their lives. On one hand it is flattering that children think their parents have an endless supply of wisdom and energy and on the other hand the realities of trying balance your family and ministry life are no easy tasks.

Over the past few years my son, Graham, has asked something of me that I didn’t think was possible. He asked me to become a coach for his little league team. And every year I have put him off with some great excuses: “Son I’m too busy”, “I’ve never been athletic”, or the best one yet “we’ve got too many kids for me to coach”. And every year he would patiently wait for me to understand just how important this was for him. Just to build context on my athletic abilities, I was one of the only people in history to be cut from the Track Team in High School. So I checked into it, I didn’t want to over commit to something that might pull me away from my other commitments (ministry, etc). I found out that the only requirement was taking an on line course followed by a short 30 minute exam. Each year our family sets goals that we hold each other to. Some are related to experiences, some educational, and some are out right dares (and this was mine). Test day final arrived…after years of excuses, and days of course review, I finally stepped up to the coaching challenge and took the exam. I’ve taken a lot of exams in my life…for some reason this one created more anxiety and sweat than all of them put together. My only inspiration was the little heart of my son. The test should have taken about 30 minutes, but required about 3 hours of my time. Finally finished I called Graham in to share with him the news that he can now call his Dad “Coach”. He jumped into my arms and then stood up and did this dance. He said, “Today is one of the best days of my life!” It was as if this exam meant more to him than I will ever realize.

I don’t want to overanalyze this but it was a close one 83% of the needed 80% questions answered right. I’m not aiming to be a head coach…I just want to be a father that can keep his promises… and can make a son’s heart jump even if it is just for a second.

Graham went on to play baseball for the next 4 years on every travel team he could make and even went all the way to Cooperstown. I retired after the second season. It was quite an honor to coach from the sidelines and cheer my boy onto great memories and real life lessons of winning and defeat. Most importantly that day I became “coach” taught me a valuable lesson. Winning at HOME requires BEING intentional in EVERY area. I was not “coach” material but my son thought I was. Mark 10:14 says “Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in. Why is it that our children can often speak into our lives through the simple. Years later my son still remembers. He says to me “Dad I’ll never forget the day you took that exam to become my Coach. You weren’t the best coach, but you did the best you could. You challenged me to be better and try things that I’m not good at. I’m so glad I can call you COACH!” No matter how many degrees I’ve learned, sermons I’ve preached or seminars I’ve taught NOTHING absolutely NOTHING matters most to me than winning the hearts of my children.

So listen closely to the hearts of your children, what do they see in you that you can’t see yourself? Perhaps God wants to teach you something through the simple!

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