Choose Encouragement Over Criticism

Scripture: Romans 14:10 says, “Why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Verse 12 says, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

What is God going to say to you and me about us when we face Him on that day He has been planning for us? Are you a loving, non-judgmental coach? It is easy for us to stand on the sideline and criticize individual players who are doing all the work for you and their team. The pressures they face on the field are often overlooked by zealous coaches (we’ve seen them across the pitch and in the mirror). They insist it must be their way or the highway.

You may not think so, but your players are killing themselves for you, and one word of discouragement can cause players to tune out of their role and tune on to thinking some pretty harsh things about you, rather than focusing on the match. If players are serving you and their team members but you’re cutting them apart, you may be interfering with God’s work in their lives. Kind words of encouragement go further than useless words of criticism or poorly ill timed words.

There were times in my coaching, that I was very hard on my players from the sideline in many games. I was encouraging, but demanding as well. I sent mixed signals, causing mixed emotions on and off the field. I wish I had not coached that way and could erase any damages I caused just to win a game when I could have helped save a life! It confused my players too much. I should have left a lot of my verbal demands on the practice field, where we, as coaches, need to better sort out the game plan so they could play creatively on their own. They saw me loving them with the passion of the game and killing their creative abilities because I was too strict and wanted a win.

Imagine a God who would kill your creativity to serve Him! It’s not in His match plans. I believe my teams could have won more games had I not sent mixed signals. When I give my account to the Lord, I hope He takes it easy on me. I’ll just have to be prepared and grit my teeth for the blow. I’m trusting God to be more loving to me than I was to my players.

It’s Satan’s job to try to cause you to get angry and be a complaining and critical coach. Don’t help Satan do his job! Satan is the enemy, not your players. You need to fight him, not join him. Imagine the amount of time we’ve spent in the past criticizing our team in our thinking and actions. That energy, used positively, could have been put to work in unifying them, winning more matches and changing their hearts for Christ and seeing you as a big time person on Christ’s Team. When you make critical judgments about your players, six things immediately happen to you (based on biblical principles):

1. You temporarily lose your fellowship with God.
2. You show your pride against God.
3. You show your insecurity by not trusting God through love.
4. You’re held accountable and judged by God.
5. You harm a bonding process between you and your players.
6. You break God’s heart and the hearts of your players.

What’s your next step when you see your team killing themselves in the match?

Paul Banta
President of GSM International
http://www.GlobalSoccerMinistries.org

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