Being known as “Coach” is great. It’s a privilege. It’s an identity that brings with it a platform for significant influence. But is “Coach” your primary identity?
Brennan Manning, who was a prolific author and speaker, points to something practiced by John, one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus. In the Gospel that bears his name, John repeatedly identifies himself as “the one Jesus loved.” He does this in John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, and 21:20 – again and again referring to himself not as “John” but as “the one Jesus loved.”
Manning said, “If John were to be asked, ‘What is your primary identity in life?’ he would not reply, ‘I am a disciple, an apostle, an evangelist, an author of one of the four Gospels,’ but rather, ‘I am the one Jesus loves.’”
What was true of John is true of you. Your primary identity is not Coach, or your work title, or husband/wife, or father/mother, or something based on what you’ve accomplished. Your primary identity is this: “I am the one Jesus loves.” The rest of the dimensions of your identity flow out of your primary identity, including who you are as “Coach.”
When we know our primary identity is “I am the one Jesus loves,” it enables us to live and coach with true freedom because we don’t have to try to prove ourselves. It enables us to love well those we coach, treating them with the same goodness and grace we receive from Jesus whether they’re easy or hard to coach. And no matter what happens on the field of competition, it enables us to experience security and peace in Christ because we know his love for us is real, unchanging, and unfailing.
It’s a privilege to be called “Coach,” but it’s a far more amazing gift to genuinely live out of your primary identity. You are “the one Jesus loves.”