FamilyLife Today®

Coach Mom and Dad

with Dan Britton, Shane Williamson | December 16, 2011
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Parenting can be a lot like coaching. Shane Williamson and Dan Britton, both VPs with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, coach parents on staying engaged with their kids by playing offense and defense at the same time.

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  • Parenting can be a lot like coaching. Shane Williamson and Dan Britton, both VPs with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, coach parents on staying engaged with their kids by playing offense and defense at the same time.

Parenting can be a lot like coaching.

Coach Mom and Dad

With Dan Britton, Shane Williamso...more
December 16, 2011
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Bob:  Have any of your children been involved in organized sports?  Shane Williamson says, “In that environment, there are opportunities for a lot of conflict.” 

Shane:  I have had situations with our daughters, where they have been under the influence of a coach that was not exhibiting godly standards.  I think this should be an encouragement to every parent who is having a conversation with a child who is playing under an unbelieving coach.  How you handle the situation with your child and their coach speaks volumes, and God may be using you in that situation to minster to and make a difference in that coach’s life.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, December 16th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’ll talk today about sports, about families, about God, and about how all of that can mix together—how it ought to mix together.  Stay tuned. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  We are going to talk about sports, families, dads and moms, and how all of that fits together; but before we get into that, we’ve had some exciting news, here at FamilyLife, over the last several weeks. 

I think many of our listeners know about the matching-gift fund that was established back at the beginning of the month with some friends of the ministry who said, “We’ll match every donation that comes in dollar for dollar up to $2.5 million.”  As it turns out, there were some other families who heard about that and said, “Hey, we want to help out, too.”

Dennis:  Bob, we’ve now had a matching challenge of $3.5 million.  I mean, that’s a lot of money.  It’s being established by families who say, “We have to do something about what’s taking place in marriages and families today.”

Bob:  Actually, it’s continuing to grow.  We’re still hearing from a few families who say, “Wait.  We might have some money we want to put in this matching fund.”

Dennis:  That’s right.  Sixty percent of our giving occurs in the month of December.  That really means, “If you want to keep FamilyLife Today on the air—bringing relevant broadcasts to you and your marriage, your family, your friends, your community—then, we need you to stand with us.”  You know, back a few weeks ago, we actually aired a broadcast about sexual abuse at the same time the Penn State scandal broke. 

Bob:  Yes.  It was really interesting the number of comments, e-mails, letters, and notes from listeners who contacted us and said, “I needed to hear this.  This is a part of my background.  I haven’t shared it with anybody.”  Of course, it was in the news; and everybody was talking about it. 

Dennis:  Those phone calls, e-mails, letters, and texts that came in—people were just expressing that we touched them around a relevant subject that they are dealing with day in and day out. 

Well, if you believe we’re on target with what we’re doing here with a biblical approach to marriage and family—pointing people to the person of Jesus Christ and His love and forgiveness—could I ask you to stand with us?  We need you to give a donation so that we can take full advantage of the $3.5 million matching challenge that has been thrown out by almost a 100 families, who have said, “You know what?  We believe in what you are doing.”

Bob:  When you make a donation right now, going to or calling 1-800-FL-TODAY, that donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar.  So, if you make a $100 donation, it’ll be a $200 donation and so on.  We do hope to hear from you.  Again, online at or call us toll-free at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

Dennis:  I just want to say, “Thanks,” to those who have already given a gift.  Thank you for standing with us—maybe God will enable you to give a second gift before the month is over.  At the rate this thing is growing, we’re going to need your help. 

Bob:  That’s right.  We’re going to talk about sports today, as I mentioned earlier.  You know, I’ve had this thought—and I don’t know if I’m right—but if God had not called you into doing ministry full-time, I could see that coaching might have been something that would had some attraction for you.

Dennis:  You know, I’ve thought about that, Bob; but honestly, now having had the privilege of having a few top-level coaches here on FamilyLife Today, I’m not so sure.  (Laughter)

Bob:  I’m sure you could have.

Dennis:  I’m not—I mean, we’ve interviewed Coach John Wooden—

Bob:  Right.

Dennis:  —who was a basketball coach at UCLA, who was arguably the greatest coach who has ever lived. 

Bob:  Right.

Dennis:  Okay.  So, that’s a tough standard to compare to.  Then, there was Tony Dungy—

Bob:  A pretty fair coach—football coach.

Dennis:  Yes, and Mark Richt, who has regularly beat Arkansas; and we finally got him last year.  He’s really a good guy.  I’m just talking about the caliber of these men that we have interviewed.  It just sets a standard in your mind of going, “You know, I’ve always thought I would like coaching, and I’d be good at it; but after meeting them, not sure I have what those guys have to turn into that level of coach.

Bob:  The interesting thing is—I don’t think listeners fully appreciate what a challenge it is to be a coach.  Even if it’s at the high school level, you experience a lot of challenge that goes on behind-the-scenes because fans are passionate about the job you are doing. 

Dennis:  The wife’s sitting in the stands, hearing what the fans are yelling at her husband, usually. 

We have a couple of guests with us on FamilyLife Today who come from one of the best ministries in America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  Shane Williamson and Dan Britton join us on the broadcast.  Dan, Shane, welcome back.

Shane:  Glad to be here, Dennis.

Dan:  It’s good to be back.

Dennis:  Shane is—well, he heads up Metro Atlanta.  He is the FCA Director there.  He and his wife Angel have three daughters and one son. 

Dan is an Executive Vice President of FCA.  He has worked with them since 1991.  He’s written a book called Wisdom Walks.  He and his wife Donna have three children.

You guys have been involved with young people for—between you guys, you have almost four decades.  What I want to do is take a few moments and just talk about what’s taking place in young people’s lives today because, Shane, you are working in 83 percent of the public schools in Atlanta, Georgia; and—

Shane:  Yes.

Dennis:  —you’re seeing a lot of young people in both inner-city and suburban schools.  You’re rubbing shoulders with high school students at intimate levels.  You see what they are dealing with.  Tell us what the big struggles are for young people today. 

Shane:  Yes, Dennis.  I tell you, I think all of us—even our listening audience—you probably wouldn’t want to be a teenager.  You know, lot of people say, “I’d like to go over”—“I’d like to do that again and do it over”—but I don’t know if being a teenager would be one of them, in today’s society. 

I think, if we just look around us in terms of what’s happening in media, what’s happening in music, what’s happening in video, what’s even happening in games that kids play, you can see very clearly that it’s a slow drift.  It’s been a drift away from some of the core values that we would express as a country—core values that we certainly would express as a Christian people. 

We can see that slow drift continuing to happen as it has for the last few decades; but today, I think, the greatest factor affecting is the availability of negative influences.  I think the world is no longer a world anymore; it’s simply a press of a button.  You can access the entire world from your phone, at any given moment. 

So, the things that are pressing kids in terms of their values, the things that affect their decision making—the family unit—all of these things have been under attack—but more so today than ever because they’re challenged at every turn with the media that is around them and the information that’s coming to them.

Dennis:  You were a coach for 14 years at the high school level before you went to work with FCA.  How would you coach a mom and a dad about raising young people today who are about to enter the adolescent years?  I just—I’d like to hear it straight from you because you are seeing it.  You said that they’ve got the world—you can push a button and go there.

Shane:  It’s good coach talk here.  Let me kind of do that for a second.  All our coaching friends will appreciate that.  I think you’ve got to play offense and defense at the same time.  I think, to be a championship team or to be a championship family, Mom and Dad, you got to play offense and defense at the same time.  You can’t be really good offensively and be bad defensively to be a good team.

What I mean by that is, offensively as a family, as a parent, you’ve got to actively pursue and seek out the things.  We call it the “spiritual piggy bank”.  You’ve got to find ways, whether it be your local church, or whether at FCA, or Campus Crusade, Young Life—some ministry.  Find ways, as a family, where you are praying together, where you are in God’s Word.  You’ve got to play offense.  You’ve got to aggressively seek things that would make an input into their life.

Dennis:  Dan, you mentioned that, for you, you’d found a good offensive tool through FamilyLife a number of years ago called Passport to Purity®.

Dan:  Amen.

Dennis:  You’ve got three children.  All three of them have been through this. 

Dan:  My wife has taken both my daughters through Passport to Purity, right when they were 12 years old—perfect time—11, 12 years old—went away for the weekend.  I took my son, several years ago away, for our weekend.  I’m telling you, it made a huge difference.

It’s one of those concepts that Shane’s talking about—making the investment.  I’ve become the biggest advocate for Passport to Purity

Dennis:  Explain to our listeners what you did on that weekend and kind of what the objective is because it really is a great illustration of what Shane is talking about—going on the offense.

Dan:  The problem with society today is there’s no more one-on-one with the child and the parent.  What you have done through Passport to Purity has allowed us, as parents, to engage our child one-on-one—allowing us to take our children away, build a weekend around what they love to do: the restaurants they love to eat at, where they want to go.  They get to kind of plan, pick, and design the weekend with you. 

Yet, you’ve provided the core essence of the teaching that became an incredible experience—transformational experience—for us to experience together.  Therefore, with my son now, we can talk about things that we could have never talked about before. 

I’m an expert in youth ministry, being with Fellowship of Christian Athletes for 20 years; but you provided a tool, a resource, for me that now I can begin to speak into my child’s heart on things that I would never know where to start.  You gave us a point of reference.

Shane:  Not to carry it too far, but even when you think about playing good offense, you’ve got to have elements of your game plan to help you be successful.  I think, I would add to what Dan has said.  If you look at the Weekend to Remembers®, the HomeBuilders Series®; you look at the Art of Marriage®--you look at the tools that FamilyLife—that FCA is experiencing now.  Those are great elements that you add to your game plan that allow you to go on the offensive with your family and with your children. 

Bob:  Well, your point is, “You’ve got to be intentional.  You’ve got to be proactive.  You’ve got to have some strategy.”  You can’t just say, “Well, we hope this’ll happen;” but you better know what you’re trying to accomplish—what the goal is—and have some markers in place, have some tools in place, to be moving in that direction.  That’s what an offensive game plan looks like.  How do you play defense, Shane? 

Shane:  Yes, I think it’s interesting that defense is one of those areas where you draw parameters.  You have to be able to establish, “What are the parameters we have as a family?”  I encourage you, as a guy who’s worked in the public school system with thousands of young people over my career, establish those boundaries—particularly, as it pertains to the internet, as it pertains to computers, as it pertains to their phones. 

I know this sounds redundant (you may have heard it a thousand times out there), but the defensive game plan—where you establish these areas—even relationally, as it pertains to members of the opposite sex, dating, and those types of things. 

It sounds corny, and sometimes your kids and even society can say it’s old-fashioned; but I can assure you, there is nothing old-fashioned about playing good defense because, as we know, every good coach has said over the course of their careers (you’ve heard it said a 100 times), “Defense wins championships.”

I think that, being very open and candid, having open lines of communication, being transparent as parents—is critical to opening that up.

Dennis:  What I hear you saying is our young people today need parents— 

Shane:  Yes.

Dennis:  —to engage.  As teenagers push them out of their lives, they can’t let them do it. 

Shane:  That’s right.

Dennis:  Parents cannot let their teenager push them out of their lives.

Shane:  That’s right.

Dennis:  They have to have older, mature adults coaching, guiding, providing these boundaries as you’re talking about—helping them get up when they fail.  I mean, I think there’s a lot of about this culture that is coming straight at our teenagers but, also, at our parents—robbing them of their courage.

Dan:  One of the things, Dennis, we are seeing—working with a lot of other ministries—youth ministries who are working with kids on the high school level.  They are saying that roughly 70 percent of all high school seniors—not when they leave high school, but when they enter into their senior year in high school—are dropping out of the church. 

I talk to a lot of Christian parents that just say, “I—what can I do?”  I go, “You’re their parent.  You’ve got to love them.  You’ve got to give them boundaries.”  One of the things that I think that has crept in—a new four-letter word for our young people is “q-u-i-t”—quit.  Parents are letting kids quit.  Not only are the kids quitting, but the parents are quitting on the kids. 

So, the thing is—no boundaries allow this whole pervasive attitude toward, “Hey, I can’t help it.  Might as well just go with the flow,” or, “I might as well quit and just bail out.”  That is a tragedy.

Bob:  You guys work with coaches.  I mean, that’s a big emphasis of Fellowship of Christian Athletes—to work with coaches.  Dennis, for years, you have talked about how important it is for parents to have allies—whether it is the youth pastor, or teachers, or coaches—

Dennis:  Oh, yes.

Bob:  —those other influences, those other voices, reinforcing what you’re trying to do at home.  Ideally, as a mom and dad, you want your son or daughter playing for a coach who is going to share your values.  That doesn’t always happen.  If you’re son or your daughter, Shane, is playing for a coach and the coach doesn’t have your same moral convictions, your same values—

Dennis:  Your same language

Bob:  —how do you deal with that?  Do you pull your kids from the sport, or do you get involved?  What do you do?

Shane:  I think it provides a great vehicle for your kids to grow spiritually.  It’s—I’ll tell you a story.  My college coach was not a believer when I was playing at Wofford in Spartanburg, South Carolina. 

Over the course of the years, if Coach Ayers were sitting here today, what he would say to—and I think this should be an encouragement to every parent who is having a conversation with a child who’s playing under an unbelieving coach—that coach over the course of several seasons fell under the influence of young men who were godly, came from godly homes, and provided for that coach a Christian influence. 

So, as a parent, how you handle the situation with your child and their coach, how your child handles that situation, speaks volumes.  God may be using you in that situation to minister to and make a difference in that coach’s life. 

Bob:  So, if the vocabulary at practice is not what you allow in your home and your son comes home and says, “Dad, you should hear the coach.  I mean he’s just—it’s this, and that, and this.”  How do you coach your son to go back to practice the next day?

Shane:  I think that the Word tells us, “We’re in this world but not of this world.” I think that the opportunity to teach—and I have had situations with our daughters where they have been under the influence of a coach, who was not exhibiting godly standards. 

We talk about the fact that, in the world, when Jesus was here, it was not about finding the most comfortable spots to be in or hanging out with the people who were just kind of went along with whatever He said; it was about being salt and light. 

I really tried to, as best we could, tell our kids, “When you are in a challenging situation with your coach—when there is verbiage or vocabulary being used that’s not appropriate—then, you respond to that coach appropriately by staying positive.  You come back to that coach—as the Bible says—it tells us, ‘Bless those who curse us.’” 

Again, no matter whether it’s winning the championship, losing every game, or being under the influence of a godly or ungodly coach, the environment for which sports provides is one of the most conducive to attaching spiritual truth to how we handle our situations—that will apply for the rest of our life.

Dennis:  To that point, we are talking to a lot of parents who are coaching their kids morally and spiritually at home.  They may be thinking about coaching their eight-year-old, nine-year-old, maybe junior high kids, in a sport, as a volunteer.  They can have a great ministry!

This is a readymade ministry for moms and dads to make a difference in young people.  This is really the fat part of the bat for FCA.  You guys are all about equipping coaches, at all levels, to have a spiritual influence on the young competitors that they are leading.

Dan:  Yes, it’s crazy to think about.  We don’t have to go and try to do anything.  Sports are a readymade highway that’s already in existence—that God is raising up men and women, at all levels, to have an impact for Christ.  Whether it is a youth team, or coaching a team at the church level, or at the high school level, junior high level—the opportunities to turn that coaching experience into a powerful ministry is so catalytic. 

Shane:  I can tell a story about a young man.  It’ll maybe encourage everyone out there. 

The man’s name was Keith Sherman.  Keith was a free safety for us, back several years ago, at the high school level.  Keith was having a really tough day at practice.  Practice was in.  It was time to condition, and he was having an even tougher time in conditioning.  He was not doing really well.  As coaches, we were trying to encourage him in a nice way—as you can imagine coaches do.  (Laughter)

Bob:  With a little intensity and passion.

Shane:  With a little intensity and passion—

Bob:  Yes.

Shane:  —and Keith stood up and said, “I quit.”  He began to walk off the field.  I looked to an assistant coach; and I said, “Go with him and follow him to the locker room.”  When practice ended, I went into my office.  Keith knocked on the door, came in, and sat down.  He sat across from me.  I encourage any of you, as a parent, as a coach, out there, “You never know what you mean in the life of a child.  You never know what’s happening in the life of that child.” 

Dennis:  Yes.

Shane:  He looked at me; and he said, “Coach, I have four brothers and sisters.  I have to go home and take care of them.  I have to be the strong one in my family, and I cannot fail.  I will not be weak.  If I fail, I have no other choice but to quit because I can’t fail.” 

I looked at him.  I said, “Keith, what can I do for you?”  He said, “Coach, I just need a hug.”  I’ll tell you.  I’ll tell you, “There are so many young people”—even if you’re a parent sitting in the stands—“be encouraging.” 

So many of these people are giving their time, and outside of you as the parent, outside of your parental unit, children will never fall under the influence again of anyone greater than their coaches—right, wrong, or indifferent—what a great opportunity for all of us who coach, who are around athletics, to use that influence. 

Dennis:  There’s a lot going on in young people’s lives today, at home, we could never imagine.

Shane:  That’s right.

Dennis:  There are a lot of young people going home.  They’re going home to an empty house and having to take care of their younger siblings. 

I’m thinking back over the Apostle Paul in the New Testament and how often he talked about running the race and disciplining his body—how he’s finished the good fight; he’s kept the faith; and he’s run all the way to the finish line—and how much competition is mentioned in the New Testament—just recognizing the nature of who we are, as human beings. 

I agree with you guys.  I learned a lot about character, about myself, about life, and even about God through coaches.  I could have learned a lot more if I’d had more spiritually-minded, intentional coaches, who had FCA alongside them.  I think I’d done better as a young person if that would have been in place. 

I really appreciate both you guys, your ministry of FCA.  It’s my hope that a bunch of our listeners—that maybe they’ll take up FCA as a resource—take advantage of some of these tools you guys have created to come alongside coaches, make them effective with the young people they’re coaching, and utilize your ministry. 

I just appreciate you both and hope you’ll come back and join us again on FamilyLife Today

Dan:  Thank you. 

Shane:  Thanks, Dennis.

Bob:  Once again, we want to point people to our website,, where we’ve got a link to the FCA website.  If folks want more information about the ministry of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, go to and click on the link to the FCA website. 

You’ll also find on our website a copy of the book that Dan Britton has written, called Wisdom Walks—40 different principles that are outlined in this book.  It’s really designed well for a dad to take a son or a daughter through as you go out on a date together or as you spend some time together.  It’s a great book.  It’s called Wisdom Walks

You can find out more about it when you go to; or call us if you have any questions or would like to order a copy of the book.  Our toll-free number is 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. 

Quickly, let me remind you of what Dennis mentioned at the beginning of today’s program—the matching-gift fund that was established for us here at FamilyLife Today.  It has increased in recent days from $2.5 million to now $3.5 million. 

We’re trying to get the word out to everybody we can to ask if you will consider making a year-end contribution—whatever you are able to do to help support FamilyLife Today.  That will enable us to take advantage of all of these matching-gift funds.  We hope we will be able to take full advantage of the match. 

You can make a year-end donation by going online at; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make your donation over the phone.  We really do appreciate your support of this ministry.  We’ll keep you posted on how we’re doing with matching funds and whether we are getting close to taking advantage of this $3.5 million matching-gift fund. 

We hope you have a great weekend.  Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. 

I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to introduce you to a guy who is really doing a great work with young men in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area—training them to become gentlemen.  You’ll meet Dwayne Washington on Monday.  He heads up the Gentleman’s Society, and I hope you can be here for that. 

I want to thank our engineer today—his name is Keith Lynch—and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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Copyright © 2011 FamilyLife.  All rights reserved. 


Episodes in this Series

Reaching Out Day 1
What is FCA?
with Dan Britton, Shane Williamson December 15, 2011
FCA Vice Presidents Shane Williamson and Dan Britton explain the who, what and why behind the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
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