‘It’s hard to care when all you do is lose’

Robert Ashcraft

Robert Ashcraft

My son, a freshman, who led our small high school’s varsity soccer team out of last place last year into fourth place this year, said this. I had no immediate response. The sheer profundity had to sink in slowly.

This was the game when we engineered the leagues biggest upset. The other coach was mad at his players. To be sure, they suffered from overconfidence at the beginning and depression at the end. But my players were sharp and worked hard. Robert wrecked havoc.

This was the game when we engineered the league’s biggest upset. The other coach was mad at his players. To be sure, they suffered from overconfidence at the beginning and depression at the end. But my players were sharp and worked hard. Robert wrecked havoc.

His response was to my urgings to see more leadership from him. His club team is losing. He scores goals, they lose anyway, he clams up. I told him to stop being such a nice guy, get in the face of his teammates and tell them to man up (they are afraid of the ball)*. I was completely unprepared for his answer. (You ought to listen to your teenager.)

It is hard to care when others don’t, when all around you is discouraging. Too true!

Lighthouse Christian Academy had its best season ever.

Lighthouse Christian Academy had its best season ever this year.

And yet this world needs desperately people who care — when it is hard. We need Christians who care when it seems like we are being overrun by the loud voices of hate. We need evangelizers when we get ignored, heckled, mocked. We need people not lulled into a false sense of security, hypnotized by the American good life.

This was our high school's first game, when they got a tie and started to believe in themselves.

This was our high school’s first game, when they got a tie and started to believe in themselves.

Maybe the reason why we don’t pray more is not laziness. Maybe we just don’t care. We need to care enough for others to pray. Jesus viewed with multitude “moved to compassion.” The disciples viewed them as a nuisance, or as a means to an end.

It’s been a week, and I’m still trying to formulate a response to Robert. How can I get him to care for his soccer team?


*Don’t worry. None of his club teammates or teammates’ families read this blog.

32 responses to “‘It’s hard to care when all you do is lose’

  1. yourothermotherhere

    I suspect he cares, but he’s tentative about stepping up. Ideally, he shouldn’t have to take a leadership role, that’s for the coaches. But in reality, maybe he does. in order to instill others with zest and enthusiasm, you have to have it yourself as you well know.

    I would have him invite all the players over and brainstorm together how to make a better team. Help each other on weak points, work at them as well as talk about them. It shouldn’t be a one time thing either. You don’t preach once and say, “That’s enough, you should’ve gotten it by now.”

    And be very careful that it isn’t you that wants this, but that it’s actually your son that wants it. Living vicariously through children to fulfill parental needs, wants, or desires will have consequences one way or the other.

  2. I used to tell my kids, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” The idea behind this dictum is to “decide” what is worth your time and then apply yourself. Not everything is worthy of your attention and part of growing up is determining quickly what you can/will commit to. He is committed for the season and that’s great, but if he has learned in this process that his team isn’t really interested in pursuing team goals, then he has learned a valuable lesson of the importance of teamwork and can move on to something else after the season without regret, but in the meantime he might like to follow through on what he started and give it his all so that he can feel good about what he contributed to the team even if they’re losing. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  3. anthonyhellmann

    I really don’t care if his team mates or family members read your blog or not.
    It’s time they did or at least to action to better their lives.
    We live is a disconnected society. A society that excuse the expression, just don’t give a sh– about themselves, their families or humanity in general.

    Tell your son that we need leaders since we have way to many followers.
    We need humans that will take action and make a difference.

    It is so easy to give up and roll over and die,
    instead of taking action and making a difference.
    In my opinion people are lost souls looking for a leader and or guidance and they really don’t care who they are going to follow.

    Look at those crazy so called profits who lead humanity to self destruction and death.

    Jesus at least was a leader who preached unconditional love without judgement and religion in my opinion has not done justice to the Lords name. It has brainwashed the masses to be submissive and lazy not self thinking and beneficial for humanity.

    Please tell your son that he is meant to lead and not follow to make a difference and his team members are just lost sheep who need a good kick in the ass so the become awakened and aware.


  4. Thanks for a great wake up call! I work in a very negative environment. It is my goal to make it a more positive place, but there is sometimes the desire to give up because I don’t think I’m making a difference. However, that’s just my pride in action. Sometimes it’s just a matter of praying and quietly allowing God to work through us to be an example to others. He takes care of the rest : )

  5. A forest fire often starts with a small spark. God puts us in community and on teams for a reason. Teams win because everyone works together. The spark is a leader or person who doesn’t take the status quo as their standard. Robert has been placed like Esther for such a time as this. Many perish for lack of vision. The passion for soccer and teamwork that Robert carries can transform lives. One person caring and having vision of something different can transform a team, a school, a city, state and country. One person carries the catalyst for positive change. Go with God Robert!

  6. Maybe it is just from personal experiences, but when I read that statement I felt like he had personalized the losing. At the root of it, he was buying into the lies that Satan likes to taunt us with, “not good enough”. Even though we may know that to be a lie, Satan will still try and get us with it when we are discouraged, and then it seems easy to give up. A leader turns their back on the lie and with Jesus’ help moves forward taking the team with them. Does that mean the team will win their games? Perhaps not. Robert may be used to lead one or more of his teammates to a different win, the one that really matters, their souls. Prayers for you Robert!

  7. If they really are afraid of the ball I think that’s quite cute!

  8. Teenagers are very endearing when they’re being hopeless

  9. This is so true! Japan has been justly called a “graveyard of missionaries,” and it is indeed difficult to maintain enthusiasm in the face of small returns. However, God is faithful, and the rewards are in His hands!

  10. Suggestion: watch the excellent Christian movie ‘Facing the Giants’, and read your old blogs.

  11. It’s not about winning or losing but, about how you play the game. It’s a metaphor for life. Do you repay evil for evil or repay evil with love. When you are hit do you hit back or do you turn the other cheek and pray for the aggressor. People forget the greater good that can come out of all our experiences of life.

  12. My belief is that he only has to care a little bit, and only about one part of it. That’s all. It doesn’t matter what anyone else cares about. If he can care a little bit about one part of it, and focus on that, it will grow from there. Plus, we will all be praying for him!

  13. You’re definitely onto something here. Sometimes the most courageous, gutsy, hardest thing to do is simply to care.

    When did apathy become so cool?
    And what are the things in my life that I need to rekindle passion, even in the midst of losing?

    Thanks for posting this! Definitely spurring on some introspection πŸ™‚

  14. My take on this is that he and his teammates are hooked up on the ramifications of the game (whether they win, what people will think of them, etc.) and not looking to the game itself. In other words, he’s getting in his own way, being distracted by what it all MEANS.

    When he can let go of “that it matters” and focus solely on the fun of the game for the game alone, the game – and results – will take care of itself.

    It might take some time to shift his thinking, but if he and his mates can ditch caring about the score or what people think, if he and his mates focus completely on the game and nothing but the game, he will improve. Then he can enjoy winning without it becoming the only reason to play.

    I speak from experience, from a time when I was so busy looking all around me and not focusing on what I was actually doing, that I was messing up my play and my chances. Once I stopped doing that, I got to be very good at what I was doing.

    Hope this helps. Cheers. πŸ™‚

  15. I think your example, already displayed, already speaks volumes to your son. You keep on keeping on, adjust your sails, pray, and move mountains.

  16. I’m looking forward to hearing what your response is. Maybe you’ve already made it–I’m way behind in my blog-reading. One of life’s hardest lessons is to do right when everyone around you is doing wrong. It’s what builds character.

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