Sports and competition teach us many life lessons. They are often learned because of a good coach. We receive both encouragement and admonishment from them. Coaches see the potential we have and know how to get us to reach it. Years of expertise give them keen insights. But anyone with a good coach knows, they help us with life as well as our sport. Here are a few lessons coaches have taught me, and how church communications can also benefit.
In October of 1984, I began a journey that would last over 15 years, and assist me for the rest of my life. It was my study of martial arts under Grandmaster James T. Martin Sr. Outside of family, he was the single greatest influence on my childhood. While I had several coaches through school sports, Mr. Martin was the same over the years. Here are his lessons, and how they can help digital ministries.
The karate school I attended produced many state and national champions. There was no fancy equipment, nutrition program, or sports medicine. There were, however, hours of intense workouts. It was not uncommon for the wall of mirrors to fog with drops of sweat running down them. Mr. Martin accepted nothing but our best. We trained hard and were known as fighters and winners.
What can you learn from this? The difficult tasks are often the most rewarding. Conducting a content audit of your entire website is tedious work. Yet that level of understanding is key for getting good results. Digging through persona surveys is not fun. But designing a website for a group you fully understand yields better results. It is no secret. Hard work affects your chances of success.
Every regular class started out with practicing punches. We worked our way through every hand strike, block, and kick. There were no elaborate training routines. Just a lot of punches, blocks, and kicks. But those techniques worked better than anything we encountered at a tournament. In fact, the simplest of moves and combinations yielded the best results for me. I won a state title using the very first sparring combination I ever learned, backfist and reverse punch.
Your church communications team needs to keep doing the basics. Grow your email list and share news. Regularly update your website with good content. Post events to social media and ask your congregation to share. There are many fads that come and go. A new mobile app may be an interesting project. Wearable technology is catching on like crazy. Augmented reality is the next big thing for mobile. You should try them out. But do not forget to keep practicing your basics. They will provide continued success.
Speed, Power, and Technique
Those were the attributes our moves needed to be effective. A punch was truly powerful when you had enough speed and used proper technique. You started slowly learning how to properly execute the maneuver. After many hours of practice, you could do it more quickly. Finally, with the combination of both, you could deliver a devastating strike. Taking shortcuts resulted in ineffective moves or even injury.
Take the time to learn your trade. Read that HTML book. Listen to the podcast on marketing. Attend a seminar on building online brands. Whatever it takes, learn how to do church communications properly. With time, you will gain skill and thus speed. When you can perform your craft well and quickly, your digital ministries will gain momentum. It is a simple formula, but one that requires discipline.
I joked with new students that the floor of our dojo is about 2 inches lower because of me. I did so many push-ups I swear it moved the floor down. It was punishment for mistakes. Sometimes you need to hear that you messed up. Coaches know when you can be better. They tell you something is not good enough. They see potential and push you to meet it. Often it is with blunt truths or even punishment. Know that it is for your own good.
Seek out good mentors and leadership, then listen to them. Find someone who is willing to be fair but tough on you. Seek honest feedback for your designs. When your performance dips, they pull you back on track. They do not accept excuses for why numbers change. They encourage you to find out and make corrections. But in the end, they are the first hand to shake yours when you succeed. Get someone in your life that helps you define victory, and does not let you stop until you reach it.
Learn from exceptional leaders. Study scripture. Seek out a mentor. Find a good coach and ask them to speak into your life. Then listen to them and follow their instructions. There are no shortcuts. Master web marketing techniques and perfect them with hours of hard work. Continue to learn, but always perform the basics. Then report back to your coach. Listen to the correction they have for you. If they run out of tips on what to do next, find more experts and coaches. Lastly, do not forget the coach we have in the Holy Spirit. Read scripture and pray, then listen for what God has to say. Your career and your church’s digital ministries will benefit in the long run.
Note: This September marks the fifth anniversary of Mr. Martin’s death. He taught me so much more than punches and kicks. His desire to give back is a primary reason I even started writing these articles. Thank you, sir, for all the lessons.