By Shannon Caughey
We love coaching athletes who demonstrate real dedication to their sport and their team. When an athlete is willing to give up junk food in order to transform their body, or stop spending hours on video games or Netflix in order to invest more time in training, or watch extra game film in order to improve their performance – we know they’re on their way to maximizing their potential. There is no substitute for genuine dedication.
The same is true when it comes to maximizing your influence as a coach for what matters most. In this series of devotions, we’re looking at what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:1-6 about how to maximize your influence. In the last devotion on 2 Tim. 2:1-2, we saw that a central component is having a multiplication mindset – to live and coach for Jesus today in a way that he can use to impact generations to come. As Paul continues in 2 Tim. 2, he now points to qualities needed to live out this multiplication mindset and maximize your influence. The first of these is dedication.
Here’s what Paul writes in vv. 3-4: “3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” To be a good soldier requires unwavering dedication to one’s commanding officer – especially because of the high stakes of the battle. The stakes are also high as you seek to coach and live for your commanding officer, Jesus Christ, in the midst of a very real spiritual battle. Paul points to two dimensions of the dedication needed to do so effectively.
First, dedication embraces sacrifice. Good soldiers “endure suffering” (v. 3) and make the sacrifices needed to succeed in the mission given by their commanding officer. To succeed in the mission given to you by Christ, you’ll have to embrace the sacrifices needed, even when this includes suffering. You may be misunderstood and criticized when the values of Jesus determine how you coach. You may be passed over for some coaching positions because you’re unwilling to adopt a “win at all costs” mentality. It may feel like you’re sacrificing a competitive edge because you won’t cheat time with your spouse and family in order to try to win a few more games. Maximizing your influence as a coach who points people to Jesus requires real dedication to him – a dedication that embraces sacrifice.
Second, dedication resists distractions. Good soldiers “don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life” (v. 4). They resist distractions because they’re focused on what’s most important: pleasing their commanding officer. As a coach, you encounter many things that can distract you from Jesus’ mission for you. These distractions can arise when you compare yourself to other coaches, or when you focus on trying to make everyone (athletes, parents, administrators) happy, or when you measure success only in terms of wins and losses. Maximizing your influence as a coach who points people to Jesus requires resisting anything that distracts from his mission. Instead, live out undivided dedication to Christ.
As someone in the world of sports, you know what dedication looks like and the results that can come about when athletes exercise this dedication. Real dedication is essential to reaching potential. As a coach, this same type of dedication – to Jesus and his mission – is crucial to maximizing your potential influence for him. Live and coach as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
For reflection: To maximize your influence for Christ, what sacrifices might you need to make? What distractions do you need to resist? Ask the Lord for his grace and power to enable you to live and coach with unwavering dedication to him.