When the football coach at my son’s public high school asked me to help coach the team, my immediate response was, “No way. I’m too busy.” Besides, I hadn’t been involved with football in 20 years, since my days as a college quarterback. It seemed out of the question.

But I was convicted by my own preaching on parenting from Proverbs, and the coach said I could come to practice as much or as little as I liked. So on the first day of preseason workouts, I was there. Immediately, all those sights and sounds and smells of my playing days came flooding back, and I was hooked.

For the next 12 years, coaching high school football on the side was one of my great joys. And my congregation appreciated that it got me out of the “ecclesiastical bubble” and engaged in the community.

Relationship Building

There I was known as “coach” instead of “pastor,” and I could build relationships easily with other coaches, school administrators, parents, and students. Some of those relationships have persisted for two decades, providing opportunities to share Christ in all sorts of ways. Though I am no longer coaching, I still get invited to address the team from time to time, and I was asked to officiate two funerals recently for a former player and a coach. I cherish the relationships with people outside the church that my coaching experience provided.

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