The Value of the Pull Back Coach – Further evidence that we need each other

In football there is a position on the coaching staff of certain college teams (and a few NFL teams) called the Pull Back Coach or the Get Back Coach.  This is an unofficial role held by at least one person on staff whose job it is to keep the offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator or the head coach from wandering off the sidelines and onto the field of play during games. It is a big deal because when they do, they incur penalties for their teams.  The players on the field do a good enough job of that coaches should not be affecting the outcome of the game in this negative way. In 2014 we attended the Orange Bowl when Clemson played Ohio State.  We were in the stadium that day cheering the Tigers on when a penalty was called. I was confused because I couldn’t tell what had happened.  I did not see anything that should have caused a penalty against us, so I turned to Steve in confusion, and he explained that the penalty came from Brent Venables, the defensive coordinator for the Tigers. This was not the last time that would happen in that game.  It was annoying, but soon after we attended that game, we noticed a person on the sidelines behind Venables who would yank him backward if he wandered too close to an official or the line. A person had been appointed to keep Venables from encroaching the field of play and incurring penalties.  Apparently Venables was grateful for Assistant Strength Coach Adam Smotherman who served the team by keeping him in line by becoming Venables’ Pull Back Coach.  He was then free to be as passionate and involved on the sidelines as he wanted to be and Smotherman would keep him in line.

I don’t know about you, but I am gripped by the concept of the Pull Back Coach.  Someone in our lives whose job it is to keep us from going out of bounds with our opinions, ideas, or actions.  They pull us back to just this side of the boundary.  We would be free to wander up to the line, and they would yank us back if we were getting dangerously close.  We delude ourselves if we think our conscience is developed enough to do that on our own, especially when we are impassioned about a topic or belief or an idea.

The problem is one would have to submit to the authority of their PBC and submission is a tricky business.  People do not like to submit to another person.  We do not like someone enforcing a barrier or putting a hand over our mouth to stop us from speaking or to allow someone else to speak.  We have become the most important thing in our universe but imagine what it would be like if we all had a Pull Back Coach who we allowed to have that power over us. Politicians would be able to work together; when they got too far left or too far right, their Pull Back Coaches would yank them back from the brink and they would have to stay somewhere in the middle and work it out.  No more road rage.  No more out of control sideline parents at kid’s sporting events.  No more mean, judgmental comments on social media.  Addiction would decline.  World peace would be possible.

At this point some of you may be asking don’t we already have a Pull Back Coach?  It is true that the Holy Spirit does function as a mystical, internal PBC, but, for some of us, it is easy to ignore the mystical, internal counsel of the Third Person of the Trinity.  Therefore, we also need those persons in our lives who challenge us to be better because they do not tell us what we want to hear.  We need those human, living, tangible persons. Of course, we all have people who tell us things we do not want to hear, but I am talking about people who we admire, trust, and respect, who tell us something we need to listen to for our good to keep us in bounds when we are riled up to pull us back from offense or bad thinking.  A personal PBC would help us say the difficult things that sometimes need to be said, but in a way that minimizes hurt and maximizes care.

Who are the PBCs in your life?  Do you have any?  Do you want them?  I do!! And like Brent Venables’ gratitude toward Smotherman, I am profoundly grateful for them.  I am also grateful for any system that keeps us accountable to one another.  Unfortunately, when left without checks and balances, we humans incur penalties, felonies, and atrocities.  

I say let’s all get Pull Back Coaches!!!  If we already have PBCs, let’s celebrate them. It is scriptural—“My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off.  GO after them.  Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.” (James 5:19-20, Message translation)  

Thank you, Jesus, for the Pull Back Coach!  Amen?!