The man pictured above is none other than Vince Lombardi, the famous former coach of the Green Bay Packers. For those of you who don’t spend much time thinking of sports, that’s the NFL football team that plays in Wisconsin. They’re my second team, after the Tennessee Titans. Anyway, this man was an incredible coach. He taught, led, coerced, challenged and disciplined his teams to the very highest achievement possible, world champions of professional football.
Ever since I read George Barna’s great book Revolutionary Parenting, I’ve been thinking about how parents need to see themselves as their kids coach. We simply cannot set out to be our kid’s best friend, because there are going to be MANY times that your kids will need to be disciplined for one thing or the other, and if you are too worried that your kids may not see you as best friend anymore, you will not discipline them adequately to correct the behavior.
I know God wants us to be friends with our children, but he has placed in a position of authority OVER them, not to walk hand in hand BESIDE them. In the sports world, coaches have to understand this principle with their teams. How do you think it would work out for an NFL team to allow the players to make all the decisions while the coaches all stand around applauding them for their independence?
I say you’d have a team full of chaos! Every team must have a strong leaders as coaches. A person who is aware of the big picture, of where he wants his players to go. The coach needs to be a person who understands the players on his team, how they are different, ways in which they are especially gifted, and how to help them get the most out of their talents. The coach also has to be prepared to teach his team that it takes discipline and practice to become a world champion. Vince Lombardi was relentless in his drive to make his team understand what it took to be a winner, to be a world champion.
Here’s one of the more famous quotes from Vince Lombardi, spoken to his team on the first day as their coach, ” Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence. “
That’s what we must do as parents. We can’t just settle for being good parents, raising good kids. Sports history is filled with stories of “good” teams that nobody remembers, because they didn’t reach their potential.
Unfortunately, family histories are filled with “good” kids who never mature into strong Christians, champions for God, because they didn’t reach their full potential.
Parents, love your kids, spend time goofing off with your kids, be their friend; but don’t neglect the most important part of your job as parent: coaching them to their greatest possible achievements.