A more accurate picture would be to imagine walking into a beehive and trying to coral the bees into a chorus line. There was a sweet honey reward but you received a lot of sharp stings to get to it.
You’re probably wondering what made me do it? Simple. No one else would. Like the Bad News Bears, someone had to do it whether they wanted to or not. (Although, in this great classic film, Coach Buttermaker got paid so I think my case is a lot worse. But I digress).
A more coach-like pep talk might be said like this, “I saw a problem and decided to do something about it.”
There’s truth to that statement. These kids had no Physical Education program, no sports equipment, and no exercise beyond running wild for an hour. Most of them, as I would learn to discover, would rather spend their hour sitting around exercising their thumbs on their cellphone. I saw a problem, and set out to find a solution...which apparently was me.
Yes, I had never coached before, but I did endure many years of PE in my day. Yes, it took up some time: one hour out of one day each week. Yes, there were days it felt like eternity. And Yes, I quit a few times...easier to do when you’re a volunteer, and not a paid staff. I could literally pick up my ball and go home. I did exactly that one day.
They hated the two weeks I was absent. What they didn’t know is I hated it too. I missed them. I behaved like a stubborn kid and threw a fit that would make them envious and jealous beyond words. I can’t imagine this is what Jesus meant when he said we have to become like children if we wanted to inherit eternal life.
One day my son came home and handed me a note from one of the students. She was one of the “good” ones that listened and tried. She was apologizing for her behavior and she felt bad for hurting my feelings (which she never did). She asked if I would return. In the few sentences and misspelled words the frosty bitterness began to melt away.
I recognized there was a problem (me) and had to figure out a solution to fix it (them).
Then more notes came. And more apologies. I felt guilty, like perhaps I owed them an apology. Struggling over my pride and ego, I asked myself what would Jesus want me to do (even though I pretty much knew the answer). Long story short I returned to my post. Clipboard in hand and whistle around my neck.
And now today is my last day. My own kids will be leaving this school. A different kind of heart break.
God recognizes there’s a problem in creation, humanity isn’t thriving as thy ought. So God sent us a PE coach so to speak in the person Jesus. But more than just someone who will train us and strengthen us, or like me...scream and blow a whistle...God also sent a savior in the promised Messiah to lead us and to push us to make our personal and spiritual goals at living in Christlikeness.
Thanks to Jesus we are no longer part of the problem. Instead we are invited to be a part of the solution.