I played sports in high school like many of you and I had a variety of coaches. Some coaches knew what they were doing, and some were assigned the sport because no one else in the school wanted the responsibility. My favorite coach that I played for was my senior year track coach, Coach Lee. Coach Lee pushed me every day to continue to break my own records and to always do better. I remember one track meet where I was running the 800m and coach walked up to me right before the start and said, “There’s no reason you can’t win this race. I want you to come in nothing less than first.” I respected Coach Lee and I wanted to push myself, so I came in first. Coach Lee said the same thing at my next 3 events, and I followed through. Coach Lee always wanted to win and he didn’t enjoy losing very much. While Coach Lee was my favorite coach that I personally played for, my all-time favorite coach is someone I didn’t play for.
As many of you know, this past year I served as chaplain for the Perry varsity football team under Coach Herb Lane. My job as chaplain was simply to look out for the spiritual welfare of our team and coaches, so I prayed a lot. The funny thing about this position is that I wanted to help before the season started, but I’m not the one who went the extra mile to make sure I helped the team, Coach Lane did the work. Coach Lane and myself both knew Andy Lynch and Andy knew my heart and Coach Lane’s desire to have a chaplain on his team, so he connected us. I literally had no idea what I was getting myself into, but Coach Lane didn’t know either, he just wanted someone there for the spiritual welfare of his team.
I could write a small book of stories from this past season, but I want to share two stories in particular with you today. One story is funny and the other is about life change.
Since Coach Lane was the new head football coach, there was a lot of changes that everyone was getting used to with having a new person lead the team. I was already helping with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) but I still didn’t know most of the students on the football team. Since I was new to the team, Coach Lane introduced me and said, “Alright, shut up everybody and let Channon pray for us.” I laughed and prayed for the team. I smile looking back at that moment because it shows Coach Lane’s heart for his students, but it also shows that he’s a real person and doesn’t mind laying down the law.
The second story I want to share involves life change. Most of us know that kids typically act the way they see their parents and role models act. Coach Lane knew some of his players used language they shouldn’t be using because a lot of them got warnings and flags for using that language on field. I remember walking into the locker room at halftime one game when we were down by a lot and I expected a very passionate speech on what they were doing wrong and how they needed to fix it, but that’s not what happened. Coach Lane stood in the middle of the locker room and humbly apologized for the language he had used in the past and wanted the team to have total control of their actions. Many players act on emotion and when they’re wronged or angry, they’ll act out and for many, get a flag for using inappropriate language. Coach Lane knew that leadership started with himself and trickled down to his team and so he made the necessary change for the welfare of the team.
Coach Lane is my favorite coach and I didn’t even get to play for him. Coach Lane brought a spark of encouragement anywhere he went, even in a halftime locker room when his team was down. I just want to leave you with a simple question for you to personally answer for yourself:
Who do you play for?
If you’re playing for anyone other than Jesus Christ, you’re on the wrong team. I know that may sound corny, but I’m a fan of corn. This world likes to give us opportunities to show how great we are or how successful we can be and many times it goes to our heads. You could have everything this world could offer but if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you have nothing. Jesus even said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). If life is only about the win and how great you can make your name, then you’re on the wrong team.
Life is too short and too precious to be playing on the wrong team.