The Coach’s Heart Condition

The amount of influence you have as a coach is amazing. Your potential to impact the athletes who are part of your team exceeds almost anyone else in their life, with the possible exception of their parents. And you may be spending more time with these athletes than their parents. Your position as coach gives you the platform to lead, exercise authority, clarify purpose, define values, and model character. Coaching is a high calling!

What does it look like to honor the Lord in how you use your influential position? God’s work in and through David in the Old Testament provides insight. God chooses David to be the king of Israel after Saul, the current king, fails to follow and honor the Lord. Similar to a coach, a king leads, exercises authority, clarifies purpose, defines values, and models character. Depending on how the king carries out these things, the impact is either helpful or harmful to the people under his rule.

When King Saul fails repeatedly to obey God’s instructions, the prophet Samuel tells him this in 1 Samuel 13:14 – “But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” Later when God directs Samuel to anoint David as the next king in spite of the fact that David doesn’t seem nearly as impressive as his older brothers, the Lord says this: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

God’s primary concern in a leader is the condition of his or her heart. When we today talk about the “heart” (beyond the muscular organ that pumps blood), we usually have in mind the emotional component of our make-up. In the Bible, the “heart” is more than that. It refers to the core of our being that determines our thoughts and actions as well as emotions.

To be a man or woman “after God’s own heart” is to reflect God and his desires at the core of our being. Consider what this means for someone in a position of leadership like the king of Israel. God is “the great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2). The king of Israel, through how he leads and exercises authority, is to represent the character, values, and purposes of God the ultimate King. This required that he increasingly share God’s heart through willingly living under the reign of God the King.

Coach, in a similar way you can use your position of leadership and authority to represent the character, values, and purposes of God to your players. This calling requires that you increasingly reflect God and his desires at the core of your being. How do you do this? Follow the direction of 1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” Make sure Jesus Christ is the Lord and Leader of all that you are: your thoughts, emotions, words, and actions. Willingly live under the reign of King Jesus so that he shapes your heart.

How’s the condition of your heart? In the coming devotions, we’ll explore different aspects of David’s life and experiences in 1 Samuel to help us better understand how to be a man or woman after God’s own heart. Then you can increasingly use the amazing influence you have as a coach for God’s good and glorious purposes.

For reflection: Take a couple minutes to do a “heart check”: in what ways does your coaching reflect God’s heart? In what ways are you falling short of representing the character, values, and purposes of God? Express your desire to follow Christ as Lord and to be a person after God’s own heart.