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About the Writer:
Joanne Sampl

With grown step-children, college age sons and a self-employed husband, Joanne offers her time to God and to others. Her interest in writing and communications brought her back to college as an adult and through several reinventions of her own business and ministries. With time on her hands, she writes about God and life.



God Isn't A Sideline Coach

By Joanne Sampl

“Batter Up!”

“Take a Shot!”

“Dunk It!”

I wish I could say as a sideline mom that I’ve always used sports jargon correctly. I wish I could say that my sideline coaching was crucial to my children’s athletic successes. I wish I could say that I was an asset to the team. However, I wasn’t the batter who was up, the fielder with the break-away on the soccer field, or the player with the basketball. I was the mom on the sideline giving directions like I knew what I was talking about.

I’ll never forget the time when I realized my children could hear me as I yelled my sideline coaching advice from the bleachers. “Go get it!” I yelled over and over to my son across the soccer field. He was young but could run faster than most of the kids his age. I knew he could get to the ball and score a goal, so I screamed my head off giving this crucial direction. I know he heard me; however he seemed hesitant to obey me. Seconds later, I noticed every other fan and coach on the sidelines stopped giving directions. “Now he could hear me clearly,” I thought to myself. “Eric, go get the ball!” I shouted with my maternal tone of authority.

With his incredible running speed, my son headed to the soccer ball. Wow! He was fast! He loved to run and I loved to watch him. Just as his foot hit the ball and it zoomed towards the other team’s goal, the ear-piercing whistle of a referee stopped the play and my cheering. The silence on the field was deafening. Using some hand gestures, the referee signaled what the call was.


The other team kicked the ball and my son was taken out of the game by a substitute player. Several players from the other team darted the soccer ball around our team, and within moments, they scored the winning goal.

The bleachers emptied quickly and quietly, and I sat there embarrassed and confused. On the drive home from the game, my son explained to me what happened.

“Offside means that the ball is behind the players bringing the ball up the field and we can’t touch it until it gets to the half way mark,” he explained.

I felt terrible. “I’m so sorry, honey” I told him. “I didn’t understand what was happening. All I saw was that your team could break the tie score if you got the ball and scored.” He mumbled a forgiving “It’s okay, Mom,” and stayed quiet the rest of the way home.

Two things happened because of this incident: First, I learned to let the coach be the coach and not give directions to my children. Second, my son learned to not listen to directions from anyone but his coach.

How many times do we head in a direction while listening to a voice that sounds like it knows the right way for us, but is so very wrong? How many penalties do we pay because we aren’t listening to the Head Coach of our lives?

If we think of Jesus as our Head Coach, what does that mean to us?

  • He knows all the plays and even the outcome, yet He is our loudest Cheerleader if we listen to Him.
  • He lets us play our position using our talents. He loves to see us use our unique talents. It delights Him.
  • He sets us up for success. Jesus never gives instructions or directions to us that will lead to our ultimate failure.
  • He doesn’t expect us to be experts right away, but He gives us instructions and directions throughout the game so we can keep improving.
  • He allows for mistakes because He knows we learn the most about making changes in our lives when we do make mistakes.
  • He’s knows what we are going through because He’s an experienced, seasoned Player. Even though He didn’t learn by making mistakes, He created the field of life we are in. He knows exactly what the right thing is at all times.

In John 14:23, Jesus tells us: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” – NIV

Using the soccer jargon, what does that mean? We get to decide to join Jesus’ team. When we do, we need to listen to His directions, no matter what. He’ll reveal His Instructions to us play-by-play or game-by-game so we shouldn’t expect to have the whole rule book memorized and live by it right away. As our Head Coach, He’ll love us, give us room to exercise our unique talents, help us learn from our mistakes, and set us up for ultimate success in all we do. Being on Jesus’ team will be the best thing for us, and even though we may not win every game, we will benefit from just being part of His Team.

But, that verse also covers an incredible benefit to having Jesus as our Head Coach. Think about it: “ We will come to… and make our home with… US!” (capitalization – mine.) The “we” stands for Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. God comes to us and makes His home with us. In other words, He’s always with us on the playing field of life: in the locker room, in the office, in the apartment, in our quiet times and in our not-so-quiet times. Jesus’ presence in our hearts is constant. He doesn’t quit the team when we don’t do what He wants. He doesn’t get fired by management or switch to other teams. He’s never too busy to practice with us, help us improve our skills, or just be with us after we’ve made a mistake and need help, understand, compassion and encouragement. He is our Head Coach and our First Cheerleader.

Let Jesus be your Head Coach today.

If you’d like to know more about the soccer terminology these days, try: I wish there were a site like this back in the days when my children were on team sports. I could have saved them so much bad advice and saved myself so much embarrassment.


Copyright © September 2, 2006 – Joanne Sampl. All rights reserved.

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