"I don't know what to do," sobbed my 11-year-old for at least the tenth time.
This is what soccer tryouts had reduced her to at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tired and overwrought, she was being asked to make one of the biggest decisions of her short life. And the options were all good.
She had been offered a position on two teams. The first team was with a coach she loves and friends she's played with for a few years, but it was playing a division or two below where she played last year. The second was on a team that won the division she played in last year with a coach and a program we had a heard good things about. There was no wrong choice to make -- just a tough decision.
The decision wouldn't have been difficult at all if it weren't for a guy who puts his heart and soul into coaching these girls. He's created an atmosphere where the girls know he cares about them as people first and soccer players second. He clearly views his interactions with these kids, not just as a job, but as a ministry. He's the kind of guy I want as a role model in my daughter's life and an example of the way I want to view my interactions with my kids and their friends.
We all have kids that cross our paths that are not our own. Our house is often filled with friends of my daughters. Some days, I'll admit, they are just one more person for me to have to clean up after. I don't view them as a ministry. I view them as more work and breathe a sigh of relief when they go home.
Yet, our kids and their friends are a huge mission field. We can create an atmosphere in our homes that welcomes them in and lets them see Christ at work. We never know when something we say or do in our homes will set an example for a child who doesn't see or hear about Jesus at home. Those kids who come into our lives, whether they're friends of our kids, members of a team we coach or part of a scout troop we lead, need to know we care. We have no idea what kind of home life many of these kids have. We may be the only people who show them any love.
God doesn't put people in our path without a reason. And He tells us how to treat them. 1 Peter 4:8 says "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." When we love those kids in our lives, we won't grumble as much about the mess they make or the amount of food they consume. We will view our interactions with them as an opportunity to share God's love -- to be a light to them.
After two hours of alternating between sobs and discussion, my daughter chose to play on the new team. We will miss her old coach, but we are forever grateful to him for not only teaching her soccer skills but for taking an interest in who she is as as a person, too. Lucky for us, we don't just call him coach; we get to call him friend, too, which means my daughter will still have an opportunity to be a part of his mission field.
Who are the kids in your life that are part of your mission field?