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Coaching the Little League Church

Last summer, I stopped by a baseball field to visit a friend who coaches a Little League team. What I saw that afternoon was a living parable about the pastoral role.

One coach was humiliating his 8-year-olds. "Hey, what are you," he groused, "a bunch of pansies? Get off your lazy butts, and let's see some hustle out there." When he kicked dirt at an umpire following a call he didn't like, I recognized which major league coach he was trying to imitate.

My friend, in contrast, cheered his kids at every opportunity. "Good job, Kevin," he said. "Way to keep your eyes on the ball. You almost clobbered it." When talking to his players, he would get on his knees: "Missie, there's no reason to cry. He tagged you out, but you ran as hard as you could. I'm proud of you."

The scoreboard said his team had lost, but the celebration my friend put on after the game proved otherwise. While the kids drank sodas and relived their highlights, I walked away with a lot of questions about my own "coaching" style. ...

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