I am a Christian. I am also a teacher and coach in the public school system. While I can’t preach to my students and athletes, I still have opportunities to share my faith.
I recently discussed how I’m able to share my faith as a teacher. I have opportunities to display my faith through my words and my actions. Is this the same with coaching though?
I coach middle-school volleyball and basketball. In fact, my life is currently taken over by basketball tournaments. So, how do I take those principles of displaying my faith into the sport’s arena?
Faith and Sports
As a Christian, my faith will influence my coaching style. The trick is to make sure I don’t step over any legal boundaries when it comes to my faith.
There was an interesting case in 2016. A coach, in the presence of his team, baptized one of his students. This was done away from the school grounds and not on school time.
Despite this, there are still people that believe he crossed a line regarding religious freedom. It was the student’s idea, yet the coach received criticism for using his influence to preach faith.
Whether you agree or disagree with the coach’s actions, it is still a good example of the dangers when it comes to sharing faith with your athletes.
Faith Affects How I Treat My Students
Even if I’m not actively sharing my faith with my students, my beliefs will influence how I interact with them. My faith is part of who I am. I can’t just turn that off during practice or games.
I’m not alone on that. A study of Christian coaches showed that Christian coaches tend to look at themselves as an agent of God with their athletes.
As Christians, we believe that God has a purpose for everyone. As a coach, I see it as my job to help my students find their purpose.
As a Christian coach, I also feel it’s more important to care about the individuals than the game. My main goal is to help them grow and become who God wants them to be. This means teaching to deal with victories and losses.
My Job as a Christian Coach
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes has a great resource to lay out the responsibility of a Christian coach.
As an instructor in the public school system, I’m not allowed to initiate or lead prayers, but that doesn’t stop my ability to pray for my students. I can pray for each of them in my private prayers. I can pray for God to move in their lives.
It’s also my job to seek wisdom daily. This means spending time in God’s word. It means making time to study the scriptures so I can see how to share that wisdom with my athletes.
I can also seek to be a servant to my athletes. It’s not their job to make me happy. It’s my job to instruct and encourage them.
It’s my job to create athletes that can win in life, not just in their sport. It’s also my job to help them see the next step, even when they’re discouraged.
It’s also my job to act as an example for them. This means preparing and giving my all each time we’re together. Every job we have comes from God, and we should treat it as such.
I also need to make sure that how I talk to them and act towards them is in accordance with scripture. It’s my job to remember that the person is more important than the game. It’s my job to show them how a Christian should act.
I also need to have the ability to step back and let God work in their lives. Yes, I am there as an example and encourager for them, but I also need to realize that God has more power to work in their hearts than I do.
It’s not always my job to push them or even actively help them. Sometimes it’s my job to give it to God and let Him reveal his power.
God Has a Purpose for Everyone
As Christians, we are put in situations to help people find their purpose. This doesn’t always have to look like a sermon though.
Just as I shared about teaching, coaching is about setting an example every day for these kids. To do this effectively, I have to care more about them as individuals than I do about perfect techniques. I have to help them, through example, to grow and become who God wants them to be.
Would you add anything about sharing faith as a public-school coach? Let me know in the comments.