If a group of coaches were asked to talk about a time when they’ve experienced disappointment as a coach, a lengthy conversation would likely ensue: disappointing losses, disappointing seasons, disappointing players. Disappointment is a common experience for coaches. So how do you deal with disappointment?
It’s helpful to be reminded of what causes disappointment. Disappointment is the result of our hopes being unfulfilled or our expectations being unmet. Is the answer, then, to douse all hopes and to significantly lower any expectations so that you won’t be disappointed? No! Such an approach to coaching (and life) leads to an uninspiring, unhelpful pessimism that undermines your effectiveness and influence.
Instead, the key is to make sure that your foundational hope and expectations are directed toward the One who will not fail: our faithful God. Deuteronomy 32:4 describes who God is: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” God’s faithfulness means that he will always be true to his character, he will always do what he has said, and he will always fulfill what he has promised.
When we put our trust in Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh, we are building our lives on the One who will not fail. As 2 Corinthians 1:20-21 says, “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ.” Jesus Christ through his life, death, and resurrection guarantees that God will fulfill every promise he has made, so we set our hope on him (2 Cor. 1:10).
“Hope” in the Bible is the confident expectation that God will do what he has promised to do even though we don’t yet see it – or don’t yet see it in full. When our foundational hope and expectations are directed toward him, we’re able to keep other hopes and expectations in proper perspective. Yes, there will still be unfulfilled hopes and unmet expectations as we coach. These disappointments can be painful. But these disappointments no longer devastate or derail us. Why? Because we realize they are minor and temporary when compared with the incredible and eternal hope we have in Christ. When it comes to God’s promises in Christ – knowing him; being secure in his love; having eternal life; being confident that he will use everything that happens in our lives, even painful things, for his good purposes; experiencing his ultimate victory over sin, death, and the enemy of our souls – we will find that God does not disappoint. How do you deal with disappointment? “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). No matter what comes your way as a coach, rejoice in your hope in Christ and stand firm in this hope. Through your Christ-honoring words and actions when disappointing things happen, point others to the hope they can have in Jesus as well.