Dating a coach has challenges but marrying one and figuring out how to partner in life and ministry is quite another. If it hadn't been for a discerning coach's wife who understood how sad I was to have to say goodbye to my Young Life team and students, I'm not sure I would have ever found my footing.
We hadn't been married long when hiring season came along. We found ourselves praying about a new opportunity. During the interview, we specifically asked about ministry opportunities, knowing that we would need opportunities to serve God using our gifts and strengths for us both to thrive.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived on campus a few months later, and I learned my "team assignment" was not going to include anything on that list from the interview that had been part of what encouraged us to say yes.
My role was to bake cookies and stay home.
In hindsight, I now understand that what felt like a trick was a season of refinement. There were a few edges God wanted to soften in me so that in the long run, I'd be a stronger partner in my marriage and have a clearer ministry as a coach's wife.
I didn't bake those cookies with a cheerful heart, but I also didn't want the one small way I was invited to contribute to the team's care reassigned. So, pans of cookies and brownies were sent to the office.
Eventually, community members discovered my strengths and invited me to participate in mentoring and bible study opportunities similar to Young Life. This was the beginning of God patiently reshaping the picture in my head of what a coach's wife's ministry "should" look like.
I released the initial expectations of what partnering with my husband in the coaching life ministry would look like and chose to trust that God was guiding me down a path where I would thrive.
There were many false starts and bumps and bruises along the way as God gently erased the pressure I was unnecessarily putting on myself to live up to others' expectations. Along the way, I learned and re-learned several lessons that have made our coaching life much fuller as I've embraced each one.
Here are 5 Lessons I Learned about Ministry as a Coach's Wife
- Everyone has a unique combination of skills, gifts, talents, and passions. No one else will see or do things the way you do them because you were designed by a personal God who has an individual calling for your life.
- God invites us all to partner with him in special ways that will draw those around us to him. It's your choice as to how, when, and where you use your unique combination of gift and talents, but when you partner with God, you'll feel more like "yourself" even if things are difficult.
- Just because you can do something well doesn't mean it's your calling. And just because someone else tells you they see an avenue for you to succeed doesn't mean you need to follow their advice.
- To paraphrase President Theodore Roosevelt, "It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, …if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…"
- You don't have to have everything figured out to take the next courageous step of faith with God.
With over two decades of football and ministry under our belts, the only constant in our ministry has been inconsistency. No two years have ever looked the same. Our ministry highlights include countless team and staff meals, UFC parties, Super Bowl parties, and even a few wedding showers hosted in our home. We've also had about a dozen college students and assistant coaches live with us as additional family members for a season or longer.
We've filled our home with bible studies, leadership development meetings, and meals with dating couples. We've shed tears with students, mourned with others, and even catered to a few as they slept on our couch post-surgeries. In addition, we've celebrated weddings, babies, and hundreds of graduations.
The central conviction of each encounter has remained the same. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
We've embraced interruptions from students who have intentionally pursued mentorship with us through the years. Early mornings, late evenings, lunches, and nap times spent investing in others have been some of the richest moments of the past two decades because every time we've said yes to the privilege of discipleship, we've been living out our callings.
Our story is unique to us, even when it is similar to that of other coaching families. That's the best part of ministry as a coach's wife. When we partner with God, we know we are exactly where we are supposed to be, even when it changes more frequently than we'd prefer.
Curious to learn more about living out your calling? Join me starting in January on Sundays or Tuesdays for my Understand Your Calling Group Study. Learn more here.