In coaching you face plenty of situations in which you have to decide whether to do the right thing even when it doesn’t seem immediately advantageous. For example, maybe you know that coaches from other teams don’t abide by the rules for how much summer contact they’re allowed to have with their players. Will you choose to follow these rules in the face of pressure to “keep up” with those programs? Or maybe other coaches push the boundaries of integrity in order to keep a star player academically eligible. What will you do when it looks like your star player is going to be academically ineligible?
There are plenty of other scenarios like these that you encounter as a coach. What guides your decisions and actions in these situations?
We’re continuing this series of devotions on the fruit of the Spirit – marks of spiritual growth and maturity – that we see in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” We’re now up to “goodness.” Goodness can have the sense of “kindness and generosity” in some settings. There’s another dimension of goodness, however, that likely is what Gal. 5 has in mind since “kindness” has already been listed. Goodness is “moral excellence; virtue; uprightness.” Goodness is doing what is right even when it doesn’t appear to be advantageous.
Turning again to the passage we began looking at in the last devotion, consider what God’s Word says to us in Titus 3:4-8: “4 But—’When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.’ 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good.”
In vv. 4-7, we’re reminded of the gospel: the good news of what God does for us through Jesus Christ when we respond in faith to him. Jesus saves us from what we deserve for our sinful rebellion against God. He cleanses us from our sin and gives us new and eternal life. We are new people with a new identity in Christ. God declares us righteous, which means we are made right with God by virtue of Jesus’ perfectly righteous life. Through Christ, God does all of this for us because of his kindness, love, mercy, and grace.
What is to be our grateful response? Here’s what v. 8 tells us: “so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good.” Through God’s Spirit in us (v. 6), we are to be increasingly marked moral excellence – doing what is right according to God’s definition. Looking more closely at v. 8, let’s consider two aspects of how we can grow in this quality of goodness, including in how we approach coaching.
1. Let our identity in Christ guide us. When v. 8 speaks of “all who trust in God,” this refers to us if we’ve placed our faith in Christ. We have new life and a new identity in him. Central to our new identity is that we’ve been declared righteous before God. Now by the Spirit’s enabling, we can live out what’s been declared about who we are. We can increasingly reflect who Jesus is since he’s the one who now defines our identity. Each time we need to decide whether we’ll do what is good (morally excellent and right), our identity in Christ becomes what guides us – not what other people are doing or what might seem advantageous.
2. Invest the intentionality and effort needed to make goodness our habit. In v. 8 we’re instructed to “devote” ourselves to doing good. To be devoted to something requires intentionality and effort. When we’re devoted to something, we think about it and discipline ourselves to repeatedly practice it – even as it’s often challenging and inconvenient. It’s resolving, “By God’s grace and power, I’m going to choose goodness as a coach in every situation, even when it’s hard.” We daily pursue the habit of reflecting Christ’s righteousness.
As someone who is a recipient of God’s amazing love and kindness, make it your goal to be a good coach – that is, a coach whose decisions and actions are characterized by moral excellence and uprightness. Do what you know God says is right even if it doesn’t seem immediately advantageous and even when others are not. As you devote yourself to doing good, Christ will shine through you and your reward will be eternal.
For reflection: What specific steps is the Lord leading you to take in order to make goodness a greater habit in your coaching and in your life? Talk with God about this. Thank him for giving you his Spirit who gives you the grace and power needed to move forward in these steps.