The Heart of a Strong Coach

What’s at the heart of a strong coach? Is it confidence in themselves and what they’re doing as a coach? Or is it a belief in the program they run or the system they have in place? While these can all be helpful, there’s something far more important at the heart of a truly strong coach – something that any coach can cultivate. To understand this quality, we look to one of the most well-known events in the Bible.

The account of David vs. Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is a favorite for pregame messages when your team is the underdog trying to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to defeat your opponent. But the emphasis of the biblical writer in describing the undersized shepherd boy’s victory over the giant warrior Goliath is not primarily on what David does. David is not the hero of 1 Samuel 17. God is! And David makes it clear that he is both relying upon God for strength and confident in God’s power to accomplish all God desires.

When David learns of the Philistine giant Goliath’s intimidating threats against Israel, he says, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him” (v. 32). Later as he confronts Goliath on the battlefield, David declares, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied… All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (vv. 45, 47).

David’s ability to be strong in battle comes not from his confidence in his skill with a sling and stones or in his competitive strategy. David’s inner strength is the result of his reliance upon the Lord Almighty. He trusts God to empower him and enable him to be successful in the battle. At the heart of this strong warrior is full dependence upon the Lord’s strength.

In the previous devotion, we considered your calling to be a coach “after God’s own heart” – to increasingly reflect God and his desires at the core of your being so that you can leverage your influence for God’s good purposes. One dimension of being a coach after God’s own heart is looking to God for true strength rather than depending upon yourself or something else. How does this get worked out in your life? Recognize your true need for the Lord’s power and rely upon his gracious work.

When the Apostle Paul was struggling and tempted to lose heart, the Lord Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9). In response, Paul said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Rather than trying to figure out how to be strong himself, Paul embraced his need for Christ’s power and put his trust in the Lord’s gracious work.

You can do the same, Coach. At the heart of a strong coach is full dependence upon the Lord’s strength. It’s recognizing that you don’t have the power in and of yourself to be who God desires for you to be and to do what God desires for you to do – but the Lord will empower you as you rely upon him. Look to him, expressing your need for his power. The same God of the armies of Israel who won the battle through David will graciously work through you as you put your confidence in him.

For reflection: Take a moment to absorb the truth of this promise of Jesus for you: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Ask the Lord to give you the strength to be a coach after his own heart.