Fire The Coach

** FILE ** This is an Oct. 11, 2008 file photo showing Georgia head coach Mark Richt gesturing on the the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Athens, Ga. Judging from the chatter on Internet message boards, Georgia fans are fretting a little more than usual, clearly bothered by the perception that their program is starting to lag ever so slightly behind the other elite schools in the powerful Southeastern Conference. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Last year saw marks the launch of the SEC Network, the latest in a line of 24 hour sports networks. It joined the relatively new Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network as well as the already established ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, and about 100 other “all sports, all the time” channels.

Sports dominate the American culture like nothing else. You could say sports rule the day because of fantasy teams, or because of geographical rivalries, or because live sports are “DVR-proof”.

You might even say sports rule the day simply because of the thrill of victory. But I think it’s the opposite.

There’s nothing that unites Americans more than bashing our favorite ballplayers (see the nearly year-long reign of the “Butt Fumble” atop ESPN’s weekly Worst of the Worst competition). With two brand new networks full of endless sports chatter the hyperbolic dissections of the work of Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick and the like will continue to grow out of control.

When our football team fumbles the game away or the hometown basketball squad bobbles the ball, it’s in our job description as fans to complain. We demand excellence from the teams we follow and spend our hard-earned money on.

If our team isn’t leading the league, questions arise. Someone needs to be blamed for the way the team is playing. The easiest target is usually the coach.

The coach is supposed to be in charge. He’s the leader of the team. If the quarterback isn’t playing well or the defense is struggling or the team just happens to lose a hard-fought game against an evenly matched opponent, it must be the coach’s fault.

When a team strings together a streak of losses, fans call in to the radio or post on message boards crying three familiar words: “Fire the coach!”

After all, someone has to take the blame. Someone has to be offered as a sacrifice for all the team’s wrongs.

So what happens when things go wrong in our own lives?

More often than not we live our days like we are the head coach, calling all our own plays without consulting anyone else. If we are calling the shots, who is there to blame besides ourselves?

Perhaps blaming God seems like a viable option. After all, isn’t He the ultimate coach in charge of our lives? Shouldn’t He be doing a better job of making sure our lives don’t veer off course?

It’s hard to blame God, though, when we don’t spend time in prayer. When we don’t come to the huddle looking for His play call, we have no business blaming Him when things don’t go right.

Jesus taught a great lesson in humility every time he broke away from his disciples to pray. He was known to steal away during the mornings and free moments of his days to spend time alone in prayer with God.

Though he was one with God, Jesus did not presume himself to be above the power of prayer. He did not call his own shots.

We all like to think we’re smart enough to do things on our own. Yet Jesus had no shame in seeking the counsel of His father God.

When we play head coach in our lives, we have no one else to blame when things go wrong. If we want to see things change, we must “fire the coach” and seek a better option.

Thankfully, there is a better option available to us. There is a God who longs to be constantly in contact with us, who has a better set of plans for us. If only we would seek Him.

When we call our own plays, we have ourselves to blame when we fumble. Let go of the playbook; listen to God’s audibles.

Where do you need to “Fire the Coach” and seek God’s wisdom today?

(A version of this post originally appeared in a column I wrote for The Augusta Chronicle.)

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