by Shannon Caughey
Coaches are results oriented. The purpose of the instruction coaches give, the training plan coaches devise, the practices coaches run, and the strategic decisions coaches make is always about getting results. While the scoreboard is one measure of results, coaches also care about progress made toward an athlete’s individual potential and toward the team’s potential as a whole.
Transformational coaches also care about results: helping those they coach grow toward their full potential as people created in God’s image and dearly loved by him. As someone committed to honoring the Lord through being a transformational coach, how can you coach toward these far more significant, lasting results? Jesus’ final “I am” statement in the book of John shows us – and it’s all about connection.
In this series of devotions, we’ve been looking at the seven “I am” statements Jesus makes in John because each reveals more about who he is. Each “I am” statement also has significant implications for what it means to pursue being a transformational coach. In the opening verse of John 15, Jesus makes his seventh “I am” statement: “I am the true grapevine…” Jesus repeats this “I am” as he unpacks what this means for us in verses 4-5: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
To “remain” in Christ is to stay vitally connected to him. If we fail to stay connected to Jesus, we won’t produce the fruit for which God created us. We’ll be like a branch severed from the vine, unable to receive the life-giving and fruit-empowering nutrients only the vine can give. Our coaching and life may seem successful in the world’s eyes, but in reality very few results of God-honoring, eternal value will happen through us. Jesus is blunt: “apart from me you can do nothing” – nothing of lasting worth that glorifies God, including as we coach.
How do we instead stay vitally connected to Christ? Consider what is needed to build strong relational connections, whether it’s with a spouse or friends, or with players or fellow coaches. It requires time together, communication, and a genuine desire to learn about them and grow closer to them. It takes the intentionality needed to prioritize the development of a strong, growing relationship.
Jesus desires this relational connection with us. He’s made it possible through his life, his death on the cross for our sins, and his victorious resurrection. When we respond with faith to Jesus and what he’s done for us, we enter into this relationship with him. Christ is present with us, communicating to us, and doing his work to transform us at the core of our being. But to rest in his presence, to listen well to him, and to fully respond to his work requires that we spend time with him: reading God’s Word, communicating through prayer, desiring to learn and grow closer to him.
The more we cultivate this connection to Jesus, the more his life flourishes in us – and the more his life flows through us and impacts those around us. Jesus then bears lasting fruit through our efforts to be a transformational coach, helping our athletes grow toward the full potential of God’s good and loving design for their lives.
Keep coaching toward the most significant, lasting results: lives transformed by Christ. Trust Jesus’ promise that as you remain in him, the true vine, you will produce much fruit.
For reflection: What is one step you can take to cultivate deeper connection with Jesus? Commit this to the Lord and trust him to help you take this step.