It was fourth down and long in a close game. It called a timeout to go over the play we were going to run to get the first down. I shared it with my quarterback, team leader along with the rest of the offensive unit. The play I had chosen was designed and practiced for this particular situation. It was down and distance appropriate. We had not run it all game which gave it the element of surprise. It was the correct call, at the correct time.
I then asked for the opinion of the team. Their leader seized the opportunity to say this play would not work. I could see on the faces of those around him that some were in agreement. Those who might have initially been in favor of my play were being easily swayed against it. His suggestion was everything mine was not. It was a home run play, when we only needed 5 yards. It was a complex play, which had not been practiced much, and had failed earlier in the game. It was the kind of play call you would expect from a young player full of hubris.
What should I do? Should I go with the play they were quickly galvanizing around or step in an make an executive decision contrary to their opinion. Our lives are filled with these moments. Moments where those around us are doubting our decision making faculties, where others would encourage us to take a more prudent course or one with less risk. It is in these moments where our will to be right, no matter what the odds, is against us and we are able to step up and achieve greater than what the odds makers have discerned is appropriate. It was my obligation as a coach to let them determine their own destiny in this moment.
Despite the odds of success, if they did not have confidence in the play called they would have a harder time executing it. Focus is the sharpest at the point of the spear and the most effective. I wanted them confident when they retook the field and this was more important than the play called. Success and failure are both teachers so there was no losing in this situation and only my pride of play calling stood in the way. Kicking my pride to the curb, they took the field to execute their play.
We want our players, children, employees and anyone being led to exert confidence and take ownership of situations. We want them to be right even when they might employ more difficult means to success. The Lord is the same way. As our Father, he wants us to be successful and will bless us even when our choices are not the path of least resistance. We are reminded in Philippians 4:13 that we "can do all things through Christ who strengthens (us)." If God is with us then who can stand against us. He is the ultimate Coach and every day he will provide us plays but in the end we must execute the ones which we have prayed over and while at face value are not always the easiest to execute.
The fourth down and five play was successful. It was not flawlessly performed, it probably should have been called back on a penalty and it was certainly the wrong play for the wrong time. However, it worked and we secured the first down, we went on to score and win the game. The greatest lesson learned that day was how being right would have been all wrong. I will never know if I had asserted my will into the situation if the more prudent call would have been executed with enough confidence to have been successful. Regardless, I learned, yet again, my job was to call all the plays up and until this moment and then to step aside and let the players take ownership of the game. I pray we all let the Lord direct us through life and then take ownership of His word and push through on fourth down.