The look on our two oldest sons’ faces when they came through the door that evening told me that their baseball team had lost another game. When my husband Dave (manager of their team) walked in minutes later, I mentioned the mood of our boys and asked him how the game went. "We were slaughtered," he said with a sigh. "But it’s not the fact that we lost that is disappointing, it’s their attitude. You can lose and still have a good attitude, and you can win and have a bad attitude. What’s important is that they learn to deal well with both their wins and losses."
Dave waited until the boys got cleaned up and had a snack before he sat down to talk with them. He made a point of praising their various plays during the game. "Nobody likes to lose, but you know, true winners are those who do their best and enjoy the game regardless of the final score." As always, he stressed the importance of good sportsmanship and encouraging words.
As the boys headed to their rooms for the night, I noticed the grins on their faces as they joked around with each other. "How did I miss that ball?" our oldest son said between sounds of laughter. A roll of the eyes followed by our other son’s humorous replays of the game told me that their sulky moods were gone. Time with their dad had done wonders.
Later that night, I thought about what my husband had said about the game. He had helped the boys focus on what really mattered. Dave didn’t keep record of how well or poorly each boy was playing. Instead, he meticulously kept track of how much each boy had played, to be sure that they would all get equal time out on the field. He measured each boy, not by how he was growing as a ball player, but by how he was maturing as a young man. He was there for them, eight to ten hours a week...coaching practices and games...with a schedule so congested he often missed meals.
In bed that night, I looked over at my husband’s face, at last able to give himself over to sleep after a very long and tiring day. His rhythmic breathing brought tears to my eyes. It was all I could do to keep myself from waking him up to tell him what a great husband, dad and coach he was. Instead, I kissed him lightly on the cheek and whispered, "Thanks, honey. I love you.".
Our team did not have a winning season based on the scoreboards. But I believe it was a winning season in the hearts and minds of those boys. It's been years since my husband coached that team, but I believe they remember the good sportsmanship and godly characteristics that were modeled for them by their coach. Hopefully, these will be passed on to their sons, and their sons’s sons. Thank you God for men and women like my husband who invest their time and their hearts into the lives of children.