Why Do I Coach?

By Shannon Caughey

Joe Ehrmann understands coaching. As an exceptional football and lacrosse player at Syracuse University and then during his 13 years in the NFL and USFL, Ehrmann learned from a wide variety of coaches and experiences. He then coached high school football for 15 years. What sets Ehrmann apart is his insight on what it takes to coach in a way that leads to transformed lives, not just effective athletes.

In his outstanding book InsideOut Coaching, Ehrmann says there are four critical questions every coach must reflect on and answer if they want to truly make a difference. The first question is this: “Why do I coach?” Ehrmann writes, “Think of all the time, energy, and sacrifice it takes to coach. Why do you do it? What is the purpose of your coaching?”

The “Why do I coach?” question compels us to consider both how we understand our purpose and whether we’re actually living out that purpose. Ehrmann speaks to the practical benefits of wrestling with this question: “This ‘WHY’ should be a clear and concise statement defining the impact we are trying to make in our players’ lives. WHY directs the expenditures of our time, energy, and effort and provides a final destination. Answering the question ‘Why do I coach?’ can help a coach identify selfish agendas and develop a purpose that transcends personal, vocational, financial, or ego-driven needs.”

What’s the purpose that drives you as a coach? Followers of Jesus Christ pursue a purpose – in coaching and in life – that is different from the world around us. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Our ultimate purpose in coaching and in every other area of our lives is to honor our Lord Jesus Christ through living as his representative. This means we want our actions to reflect how Jesus would approach each situation no matter what the context. We want our words to resonate with what Jesus would say to our players, fellow coaches, parents, administrators…and even officials!

When we embrace this call to coach as a representative of Jesus, our “why” becomes giving every person in our sphere of influence a chance to experience the life-transforming work of Christ through us. The expenditure of our time, energy, and effort is now ultimately about pointing people to Jesus, doing everything for his glory, and living out of deep gratitude for all the Lord has done and continues to do for us.

Is this your “why” as a coach? Are you pursuing a Colossians 3:17 purpose? If you realize that other non-Christ-honoring “why”s are driving you, confess these to the Lord and ask him to transform your heart. He is gracious and faithful, and you can trust him. May your “why” as a coach exalt Jesus Christ and bring you the fulfillment only he can give!

For reflection: Take a few moments to prayerfully reflect on why you coach and whether you’re coaching with a Colossians 3:17 purpose. Confess any purposes you’ve been pursuing that don’t have Christ at the center. Ask the Lord to reorient your “why” on him.