The coach as sage

February 14, 2022
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by Shannon Caughey

As a coach, you can impart many things to your athletes. You can give them greater knowledge of your sport. You can encourage them to compete and live according to certain values. You can help them develop the discipline of healthy habits. Yet there’s still something more that you as a coach can impart – something those you coach deeply need. You can give your athletes wisdom.

One of the images of leadership we find in the Bible is this: God-honoring leaders are sages – people who are wise and impart wisdom to others. This series of devotions looks at biblical images that help us understand the Lord’s desire for leaders. When we see ourselves according to these biblical images, it provides texture and substance to what it means to be a leader who follows Christ. In your leadership role as a coach, God calls you to be a shepherd (previous devotion). He also calls you to be a sage.

Consider the charge that Ephesians 5:15 gives: “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.” When the Bible talks about being wise, it means having the knowledge and skill to apply what’s true and right. In your leadership role as a coach, how can you live wisely and also impart wisdom to your athletes?

1. Grow in wisdom through growing closer to Jesus.

Colossians 2:3 says, “In [Christ] lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In this verse, to be “hidden” doesn’t mean “hard to find” but rather “secure and ready to be discovered.” When you trust and follow Jesus Christ, the One who is “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24) lives within you through his Spirit. The more you look to Jesus and depend upon him, the more he enables you to understand and live out what is true and right in every situation. You grow in wisdom for all things – including how to honor the Lord through your coaching – as you prioritize growing closer to Jesus.

2. Coach with the goal of imparting wisdom.

As a coach, you help your athletes learn to compete the right way. But don’t stop there. Even more important is to help your athletes learn to live the right way. Use your leadership influence as a coach to pursue the same goal that the writer of Proverbs articulates: “I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths” (Prov. 4:11). Point your athletes to what is true and right as defined by Jesus and found in God’s Word. Help them think through how to apply wisdom in the various areas of their life. Make the most of every opportunity your role as a coach gives you to encourage your athletes to live wisely.

3. Utilize strategic approaches for helping your athletes grow in wisdom.

A sage doesn’t just lecture people as a means of imparting wisdom. He or she recognizes the effectiveness of creating strategic, participatory wisdom-learning opportunities. You can do this with your athletes. For example, ask good questions that challenge them to think through how to apply what they know is right to real-life situations. Intentionally put them in scenarios that require figuring out the wise thing to do. While teaching is an important part of sharing wisdom, resist the temptation to only give monologues. The more you strategically utilize dialogue and active participation, the more you’ll help your athletes grow in wisdom.

Coach, one of the best things you can do for your athletes is to encourage and equip them to live wisely. Help them progress in having the knowledge and skill to apply what’s true and right – as defined by Jesus Christ, the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Keep growing in wisdom yourself through deepening your relationship with Christ. God-honoring coaches embrace the Lord’s call to be a sage.

For reflection: Take some time to praise Jesus, who is the wisdom of God. Ask the Lord to help you grow in wisdom and grow in imparting wisdom to those you coach. Rest in this promise from James 1:5 – “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”



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