A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. Luke 8 : 5-8
"Mental toughness is the key to success in athletics, just as it is in life." So I stated to my team one day, as we prepared for our end-of-the-season tournament. I had been rather concerned that my girls were allowing game situations and social conditions to influence their playing ability more than they should. As often happens, a few of my girls seemed very attentive, and others acted bored, or giggled about how silly it seems to think about such lofty things. I tend to feel things pretty deeply, so I went home from practice with a wide range of emotions. I try not to be angry with my players, but it does hurt to try to teach them something valuable and have them take it lightly.
You might imagine my amazement months later, when a fellow teacher gave me a copy of a paper one of my players had written for Science class. In an effort to teach her fellow students about the devastating effects that poor self-concept can have, she postulated that many problems can be solved if one simply believes in one's own ability to withstand adversity. At the top of the page, she had begun her discourse by quoting me exactly.
Jesus used this parable to teach us about the perils of teaching. It's ironic that he must have known that his own lessons would, much like ours, sometimes be ignored, misinterpreted, or ridiculed. Still, he kept trying, educating both the public and his disciples simultaneously and equally. He was trying to get his team to realize that they play an active role in determining the value of any lesson.
By this parable, we are reminded that some of our best lessons will fall on deaf ears, and fail to have a positive effect on those for whom it is intended. Other words will have a short-term effect, but will fail to "bear fruit" because the lesson will be forgotten when times get tough. Still other advice will get crowded out of our players' heads by the overwhelming volume of bad advice to which they are constantly subjected. Inevitably, some of our teachings will take root, grow well in the minds of those we teach, and become an important part of the way our players live their lives.
Jesus let his team decide individually what kind of "soil" they would be. He knew that some would not take his lessons into account, but he kept sowing his seeds of knowledge, in the realization that those who did learn them would live better for it. We can do no less, but must persevere even when we do not believe that we are being heard. All of our players may not derive the full benefit of the lessons we teach, but some most certainly will, and those who do will benefit in hundreds of ways. It is a humbling experience to be remembered word-for-word by one's pupil, but a very rewarding moment.
Questions for Reflection:
~What lessons am I teaching most often to my players?
~~Which lessons seem to get across to my players the best, and which ones seem to consistently fail?
~~~What type of "soil" is each of my players? Does that help explain why certain lessons do not seem to have the effect on my team that I wish they would?
~~~~Am I communicating effectively, such that those players who are "good ground" will prove that my lessons are hitting the target?
~~~~~How can I reinforce the lessons so that those who are "rocky ground" will get the nourishment they need to fully adopt the concepts?
~~~~~~How can I help my players "weed out" the bad advice they get in some quarters from the ideas that will help them grow and be successful?
e-mail me: CoachWoody@misterwoodynotebook.us
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