Last week, one of my favorite ministry opportunities started once again – Friday Night Football. I don’t know what it is about Friday Night Football that I like so much; I’m not even a major sports fan, but there’s something about it! As I stood on the sidelines watching the game, I had a unique perspective.
One of our former students is now coaching. It is his first season. He just graduated from college last semester. You could tell he was the “new guy.” Don’t get me wrong; he did a great job. But he was running around looking stressed. I walked up to him and asked, “Hey ‘Coach,’ you making it?” He told me about everything they had him doing. I told him he was doing great job. As I walked away, I couldn’t help but think: “Coach!”
After the game Friday night, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between coaching and youth ministry.
Spend time learning the game and being coached. Every coach I’ve ever met, at some point or another, was coached in how to play the game. As youth ministers, we must be “coached!” We have to become good at being a student (disciple) of Jesus before we can attempt to disciple others in following Jesus.
Coaches spend time preparing for the game. It truly amazes me how many hours they spend watching film, studying their opponents and strategizing on the game plan in order to become victorious in a 2 ½ hour game. Sure the players have to condition themselves all year, but they only follow the lead of their coach. We, as youth ministers, have to spend time planning and preparing for events and programs. Our entire Core Team needs to know the direction and details of the event.
Coaches watch their opponents in the game and sometimes have to shift gears. If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch a coach do what he does, then you’ve missed one of the biggest parts of the game. At every Friday night football game, there are coaches everywhere, watching their team and their opponent. The coaches on the field are in constant communication with those in the press box. They see what their team is doing right and wrong, but more importantly, they see how their opponent is lining up, and they are constantly changing things to better compete. They had a plan going into the game, and sometimes that plan changes based off of what the coaches in the box are seeing. As youth ministers, we need a plan. But we also need to stay flexible and be willing to change as the Spirit prompts us.
When the game is over, the coach’s real job begins. A good coach won’t stop after the final play. He goes into the film room, talks with the other coaches and begins to prepare for next week. A good youth minister will evaluate and re-evaluate everything. He will stay in constant communication with his “coaching staff” (God, pastor, Core Team, and parents). He will always try to improve everything the ministry does, so they will continue to be the best “coaches” they can be.
Unlike coaches, it may take some time to get identified as the youth minister. But when it’s all said and done, we are the youth ministers and our job is to coach students in playing the game of life. If we do our job well, our students will be victorious in becoming saints. Keep up the great work – Coach!