In coaching, there are no shortage of opportunities to worry, complain, and be critical. We can worry about how our team will perform or whether our key player will stay eligible. We can complain about a lack of resources or inadequate facilities. We can be critical of the calls of officials or the tepid support of the community.
We can choose to worry, complain, and be critical. This is the easy route. However, there’s a far better, God-honoring option. Consider the Apostle Paul’s instructions in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is an amazing promise: the experience of the peace of God, guarding and flooding our hearts and minds! This promise is ours as we’re “in Christ Jesus”: united to him through putting our faith fully in him. This promise is realized as we exercise our trust in and dependence upon God through prayer – and as we do so “with thanksgiving.”
That brief phrase (“with thanksgiving”) has enormous implications. When we not only recognize our dependence upon God in every situation but also choose to find reasons to be thankful to God in every situation, the results are significant. When gratitude wins the day rather than worrying, complaining, or being critical, we experience the peace God desires for us no matter the situation.
How does this happen? In the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun encourages the intentional practice of giving thanks to God throughout the day. She writes: “Thanksgiving is possible not because everything goes perfectly but because God is present. The Spirit of God is within us—nearer to us than our own breath. It is a discipline to choose to stitch our days together with the thread of gratitude. But the decision to do so is guaranteed to stitch us closer to God.”
It’s in being closer to God that we experience his peace. Gratitude to the Lord deepens our relationship with him. In giving thanks to him throughout the day, we realize how loving, good, and generous this God who is present with us is at all times.
Coach, when you win at gratitude, you’re well on your to winning at what matters most: trusting and honoring God. When you’re tempted to worry, bring this to the Lord and give thanks that he is present and in control. When you want to complain, make a list of things you can thank God for instead. When it would be easy to be critical, look for reasons for expressing appreciation to God for his work. Daily win at gratitude and you will experience God’s peace.