Never Stop Learning

By Tony Price, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: October 25, 2010

O Lord correct me, but with justice; not in your anger lest you bring me to nothing.

Jeremiah 10:24.

BOSTON (BASN) — What happens to a person who is used to being at the forefront as a coach or teacher instructing others,when they take a step back and become the pupil again?

I’ll tell you HUMILITY! That is exactly what has taken place with me as I write this article. A few months ago I made a conscious decision to enroll in a distance learning program to obtain a ministry diploma.

Up to that point I have never been a proponent of taking on-line courses, I reasoned that I was from the old school and needed to attend a brick and mortar establishment so as to experience the human interactions of both my peers and the instructor.

So I hesitantly registered for the class, I figured what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll try it for the semester and if I don’t like it, I am done. I had no clear idea of what the school expected from me in terms of time, assignments, cyber classroom participation etc. The answer to those questions appeared quickly with the assignment of the first homework. I soon discovered that the school was serious about preparing its students for ministry and not just another diploma mill out to make a quick buck. I also realized another important factor; it has been almost two decades since I last sat in a classroom as a student. A lot has changed since then including the various writing styles that are required. That brings me to my main point of the article. My peers and I are required to complete weekly readings along with the submission of written response papers on what we have read. At first I thought no problem, what’s the big deal, (can you see the arrogance), that is until I got my first paper back, I didn’t fail in fact I received a B- however the paper was marked up so much I thought it was one of the pages out of my playbook complete with the X & O’s .

Are my writing skills that rusty? After all I recently published a book and people across the world visit my website to read my articles. This occurrence reminded of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of constructive criticism and how crushing it feels believing you’ve hit a home run only to learn that you missed the mark.

My ego took a hit and I felt the air of false confidence I had entering the program slowly dissipate. It was getting to the point that I did not want to look at my papers when the instructor returned them.

I agonized opening the email with the paper attached, anticipating the worst. To escape this trap of doubt and fear, I had to remind myself that correction and constructive feedback though not enjoyable are critical for improvement and growth and the Bible has dozens of scriptures that speak of the benefits of correction.

This experience also helped to remind me of the range of emotions that some of the athlete’s that play for me go through on a daily basis. I have become keenly aware of the need to balance feedback, encourage, availability for one on one consultation or clarity and making sure that directions and expectations are clear and concise.

Another area that I glossed over the past few seasons was to remember that each of the athlete’s has a different learning style and one size does not fit all. Lastly I was reminded of how much students, athletes, and subordinates rely on those of us with more experience to guide and instruct them on how to be successful.

By placing my feet in a pair of old shoes as the student has made me a better prepared coach.