A couple of years ago I developed a mantra for my U14 boys soccer team that might be disturbing to many, but I believe that it resulted in two league championships. Yes, I encouraged my normally courteous and respectful young men to be selfish and annoying.
Before you judge my rebellion against basic Christian morals and societal norms, let me explain. First, you must take the time to understand the middle school boy. Through God’s plan and a healthy dose of HGH, boys naturally begin to claim their heritage as men. They are no longer content with the nest. Not confident enough to make the jump on their own, they find ways, through word and action, to make us want to push them out. If we understand this, we can use this to help them make that journey. If I can disguise character building as adolescent rebellion, I can help them to take those steps toward manhood.
Selfish – The team was rapidly developing skill during training sessions. Although I could see it, they could not. During games, it was apparent that they had little confidence in their own ability and they deferred to other players and even the other team at times causing us to take few shots and loose most of the 50-50 balls. So I told them to be selfish… “really coach?” Yep … I want you to believe that the ball is yours and the only place that it should be is on your foot, your team mates foot, or in the back of the other team’s net. I want you to be like a preschooler in the nursery who gets mad when another kid takes their toy. They loved this! It sounds crazy, but we began fighting for every 50-50 ball and driving the ball into the back of the net.
Do I allow the enemy to take away the ball that God purchased for me on Calvary? Do I lack the confidence to wrestle with the enemy in prayer? Do I understand that God has placed me here for a purpose and that I cannot always defer to someone else to accomplish that task? Am I selfish for my God?
Annoying – Every team I have ever coached has that one kid. You and everyone else knows who it is on the first day of practice. “Coach, what are we going to do next?” , “Coach, can I play goalie?” , “Coach, are we going play around the world today?” “Coach …Coach…Coach?” AAAAHHHHHHH! Yes he is annoying, but you always know where he is, what he wants, and you know his voice (even in your sleep). On the field, every other player know his voice as well and they always know where he is. This is not a bad thing. When you are trying to develop communication on your team and their lack of confidence keeps them from talking what better example than “that guy”. Can you be louder than “that guy”? Can you be more annoying than “that guy”? If we can be loud and annoying, we will all know each other’s voices and we can effectively work together. Suddenly, I have a team of guys that communicate, know where their teammates are, and can effectively share the ball and play team defense. Annoying is better than silence when you need to communicate.
Have I made sure that God knows my voice? Does He know how much I want to be a part of the game? Do others know that I am open and available for ministry? Do I know that good would rather here my annoying voice than anything else in the world. Am I annoying for God?
“And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”;and he will answer from within, “Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything”? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Like 11:5-13 ESV)