Upside-Down Greatness

Imagine your current players being interviewed 10 or 20 years in the future about the impact you had on them as a coach. How would you want them to complete this sentence: “Beyond sports, Coach really taught me the value of…”? What values drive you and how you seek to mold and shape your players?

We as FCA have four biblical values that we desire to define us and drive us. We firmly believe these same values are foundational for coaching in ways that honor Christ and enable you to have significant long-term impact on your players. In the last devotional we looked at the first value: integrity – being committed to Christ-like wholeness, both publicly and privately.  Here’s the second value: serving.

To serve is to look out for and genuinely care about the needs and interests of others, and to take action to address those needs and interests. Our Lord Jesus provides the ultimate model of serving and also our motivation to serve. Referring to himself as the “Son of Man,” in Mark 10:43b-45 Jesus says, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In our present sports culture, many athletes and even coaches are focused on pursuing greatness through self-promotion. It’s often about “doing what’s best for me.” In his kingdom, Jesus turns this upside down. Jesus is the Son of God and Lord over all.  His use of the title “Son of Man” is a subtle reference back to one called a “son of man” in the Old Testament book of Daniel, a figure entrusted by God with authority, glory, and sovereign power (Dan. 7:13-14). But even though Jesus is most deserving of being served, he chooses to serve others and to give his life to meet our deepest need – the chance to be rescued from what we deserve for our sinful rebellion against God and reconciled to him.

Jesus directs his followers to emulate him and live out this value of serving.  For serving to become a value that is truly part of the culture of your team, it starts with you, Coach. Here are two key questions to consider (from FCA’s book Serving):

  1. Do I tend to be self-serving, or am I genuinely serving others? The “default” for most of us is to look out for our own needs and interests. To serve, we must instead embrace self-denial.  As Paul puts it in Philippians 2:3, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” The author of FCA’s book Serving writes, “That is why serving is costly, not convenient. Sacrifice is always a key ingredient!” Does your coaching and your life reflect a willingness to sacrificially serve your players and others rather than pursuing a self-serving agenda?
  2. Do I have an insecure heart, or am I secure in my identity in Christ?  As the author of Serving puts it, “The more insecure we are, the harder it is for us to serve, because we will always want others to serve us and meet our own needs. Only people with a secure heart can serve.  Serving is forged out of a heart that is yielded to Jesus, and their identity is in Christ!” Do you coach and live out of the security of who you are in Christ, enabling you to give yourself to serving others?

Out of gratitude for how Jesus serves us, we now serve others, taking action to address their needs and interests. When this value defines you and drives how you coach, it transforms the culture of your team. Your players have a great chance to growing in this value as well because of the Christ-like model they experience in you. Coach, greatness in what truly matters – Christ’s kingdom – is realized through serving.