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OPINION: If not the president or a coach, then what?

by Robert Box | July 21, 2021 at 5:25 a.m.

I have always said that there are two jobs that I do not want: the job of president and the job of being a coach. It's not that I disrespect either of these two positions; rather, the fact is I have high regard for both of them. It's just that they are not for me.

Consider being the president of the United States. You can't win for losing. If you say one thing today and have to correct it tomorrow, it's called a mistake and the media won't let you forget it. If you don't have an answer to every problem people face today, you must be uninformed and unfit for the office. If people don't like your policies, you must be the one who is wrong, for the public is never wrong. If other countries give you problems, you must have a bad foreign policy. It is impossible for a president to control public thinking about police actions or the lack of police actions. The immigration problem has been present for decades, but if you don't fix it immediately, you certainly are a weak president. And, the list goes on. I don't want to be president of the United States (and, gratefully, no one else wants me to be president).

I don't want to be a coach either. I don't know whether you have noticed it before, but every coach in existence today is a loser except for the one who won. Those are terrible odds. It used to be possible to judge the value of a coach for the leadership he or she exerted in the lives of the people coached but that is largely minimized today. The urge to win is dominant. I well remember an episode during a World Series girls softball game in Omaha, Neb., a few years ago when the winning run resided in a girl on third base who had to reach home plate safely. At the right time, she made a hard rush for the home plate only to be knocked out by a catcher who stood between her and the plate. As she lay there immobile, her coach ran onto the field, grabbed her by the arms, and literally dragged her across home plate declaring his team the winner. The poor girl had to be carried to an ambulance and taken to a hospital for treatment. Luckily, a large crowd of spectators and officials saw what had happened and condemned the coach for his actions, but there was no discounting his desire to win. I don't want to be a coach.

So, if I don't want to be the president or a coach, what is there left for me to do? Well, for starters, I would like to be known as a friend. Yes, I know some people don't want a friend but that doesn't bother me; it only bothers them. My neighbor who recently lost her husband worries about my moving her trash bin up to her house on trash pickup day and trimming some of the dead branches off bushes in her backyard, but those are some things I can do without much effort, and they give me a lot of pleasure. That's being neighborly and friendly. I would much rather be a friend than someone's enemy.

I also like being a teacher. It's a lot easier than being a pastor, especially a senior pastor in charge of a large church. At least, I think it is. I taught classes of adults at a community college in another state for a number of years and truly enjoyed the dialogue we had in the classroom about the various subjects involved. Even in those years, you really couldn't tell anyone anything, but you could insist they think about them and respond creatively. I don't know if teaching is like that today, but it was enjoyable for me. I hope it was also enjoyable for my students.

I also like to help people. Frankly, I have difficulty holding someone's hand and crying with them, but I'm good in emergencies and know what to do in most situations. I also have a working relationship with machines and have no problem helping people figure out what is right or wrong with them, even if I have never seen the machine before. My wife also admits that I do know a thing or two about working around the house and taking care of the automobiles we have. I like that.

Lastly, I like to share good news with people, even when they don't want to hear it. I like to share my faith journey with others and to tell them about the goodness of God and His son, Jesus. I like to point out that while I don't claim to understand much about religion, it made a big difference in my life when I realized that Jesus came back alive after his crucifixion. I also like to share the goodness in the world around me. There are too many forces today that want to pull me into despair and depression, but I know better than to fall into that trap. There is good in most people, and it doesn't hurt to say something positive to the people you meet. Who knows, that might actually make their day.

I don't want to be the president or a coach, but there are other things that I can do and have a good time doing them. What about you?

• • •

Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 27 years. He is a master-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches, USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Opinions expressed in the article are the opinions of the author and not the agencies he serves.

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