Posted by: Matt Rice | 05/22/2010

Coaching and Pastoring

I am the proud coach of the Mite Division Dodgers Baseball Team. My 7-year-old son Andrew is a member of this team. In the mite division the coach pitches the ball to you. No more tee hitting. Andrew is a lot like me. Athletically he gets it, but has a hard time putting it into practice. We have played 4 games this year. Andrew has struggled with hitting the ball. His stance looks good, his uniform fits well, and his bat is in the right place. However, he WAS(notice the tense – past) having problems hitting the ball.

He was one of the few guys on the team who was not hitting the ball. In the first two games I gave him 15 pitches to hit and he did not hit one. In the third game he did not hit the first two times up, but got his first hit on the 3rd try. I was proud and he was beaming.

I realized something rather convicting. I was coaching my team but not my son. I was not practicing with him. We would practice only as a team where I had 14 other kids I was responsible for. He just needed some swings. May 15 was the baseball blast where we played at 6:45 pm. So, I made a plan and this is how is all unfolded:

1.    Thursday Night, May 13 – Took him to the batting cages where I pitched to him. I threw him 70 plus pitches and he hit just a few.

2.    Saturday afternoon, May 15 – Took him to Papaw’s house and threw him over 100 pitches. He KILLED the ball. He hit everything I threw him.

3.    Saturday Night, May 15 – The Dodgers vs. The Phillies. Andrew Rice goes 3 -3 with two runs scored. He hits three singles.

Here are the lessons I learned:

1.    Encourage often. Many times you focus on what they are not doing rather than what they are doing. Watch your tone and encourage.

2.    Don’t push too hard. After a time of hitting he said he was done and I did not fight it on the Saturday at Papaw’s house.

3.    Spend time with them. I was not helping my son hit the ball. I was helping the whole team but not giving him the help he needed. It was amazing what a few days of hitting did for him.

4.    Don’t give up. Andrew was discouraged about not hitting. He told me through tears before one game he was scared of the ball.  At Papaw’s house he fouled a ball into his mouth and he bled – badly. We cleaned it up and he got right back out there.

As a pastor or church leader, parent or friend, I want you to encourage your friends/congregation, don’t push too hard, spend time with them and don’t give up or let them give in.

Andrew said to me the other day, “Dad, do you know the best part about baseball is? You are MY COACH. “

Hey do you know what the best part of the Gospel is? JESUS.

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