Coaching essentials: faith

By Shannon Caughey

True success in coaching comes with being a transformational coach. Transformational coaches care about helping their players grow into the people God created them to be rather than only being concerned with how they perform as an athlete. What does it take to be a transformational coach? 

In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, the Apostle Paul commends three qualities that are essential to living for Christ in every area, including coaching: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this and the following two devotions, we’ll consider these coaching essentials: faith, love, and hope. Let’s start with faith. 

Faith plays a big role in coaching. Coaches frequently talk about “trusting our process” or “believing in our philosophy.” Contrary to popular notions, however, it takes more than “just believing.” Faith is only as good as its object. If a coach’s process or philosophy is actually not very effective, it doesn’t matter how much faith you put in it. It’s not going to lead to success. Faith is really important – but it must be faith in the right things.

In the same way, the faith Paul talks about in 1 Thess. 1:3 isn’t about trying really hard to believe in something. It’s about recognizing what – or more accurately, who – is worthy of being the recipient of our confidence. Jesus Christ is supremely worthy of being the object of our faith. He’s worthy because of who he is, what he’s done, and what he’s capable of doing in the present and future.

We trust Jesus because of who he is (Son of God, Savior, Lord over all), what he’s done (through his life, death, and resurrection), and what he’s capable of doing now and in the future (because of his authority, power, wisdom, love…). Colossians 1 reinforces why we put our confidence in Jesus Christ: “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together… For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ” (vv. 15-17, 19).

There is no one greater than Jesus Christ! So what does it look like to live out our faith in the Lord in all areas of life? In his book Small Faith, Great God, N.T. Wright says, “Faith means totally relying on God and committing ourselves to God for time and eternity, trusting his promises, obeying his commands, not trying to make ourselves good enough for him but trusting in the fact that he accepts us as we are because of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.”

When we make Jesus Christ the object of our faith, we’re now trusting his work in and through us – including in our coaching. We live for Jesus, seeking to reflect his character and his ways as we coach. We trust his presence with us and his promise to enable us to lead and serve our players well as we coach. As we carry out the work we do as a coach, it’s fueled by our confidence in Christ. We’re confident that Jesus will bring about long-term results by his power and grace as we care for our players and intentionally guide them toward becoming people who live the right way, not just athletes who make the right plays.

If you want to be a transformational coach, faith is essential. Coach, make Jesus Christ the object of your confidence above all else. Daily commit yourself to relying on him and following him. May all you do as a coach truly be “work produced by faith.”

For reflection: Consider who or what is currently the object of your faith. If it’s anything other than Jesus Christ, confess this to the Lord. Commit to renewing your trust and confidence in him. Ask Jesus to help you grow in this essential quality of faith in him.