Wise coaching: Be a good coach

by Shannon Caughey

As a coach, when you have the opportunity to do something good for a player or someone else connected to your program – something that goes beyond your job description, something that you could easily choose not to do – how do you respond? When those opportunities arise, are you tempted to look for a way to avoid having to expend the time and energy needed to do that good thing? If you decide to do that good thing for someone, from your perspective are you doing them a favor? Or do you joyfully embrace opportunities to do good things for others?

We’re in the midst of a series of devotions on coaching with wisdom. In the Bible, wisdom can be defined as “being skilled at living well in this world.” What role does doing good things for others have in being wise? Proverbs, a book that’s all about living wisely, addresses this multiple times, including in Proverbs 3:27-28 – 27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, ‘Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.’

Being skilled at living well in this world includes doing good for others when the opportunity arises and we have the ability to act. The qualifier in v. 27, “those who deserve it,” isn’t about judging others or deciding we’ll only help people we like. In the context of the book of Proverbs, “those who deserve it” refers to those with a legitimate need. It is not wise to offer assistance in ways that enable irresponsible, lazy, or manipulative behaviors by others.

Doing good for others is wise because it reflects what Jesus, our perfectly wise Lord and Savior, is like. It’s important to remember that doing good doesn’t earn us the salvation that Christ offers. Titus 3 reminds us of this: “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy… Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life” (vv. 4-5, 7). The next verse insists that we keep in mind what Jesus has done for us “so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good” (v. 8). We do good for others as a grateful response to the incredible good Jesus does for us.

Whether in the setting of coaching or in other areas of life, devoting ourselves to doing good requires overcoming internal resistance. Proverbs 3:28 addresses the temptation to say, “Come back tomorrow.” Maybe the opportunity to do good for someone feels inconvenient. Maybe we’re just tired. Or if we’re honest, perhaps our resistance is really about self-centeredness: we want to invest that time and energy into ourselves rather than directing it toward doing something good for someone else. Living well – living in the fullness of life that comes with living for Jesus – requires overcoming these barriers and generously helping others.

Proverbs 3:27 recognizes that “it’s in your power to help” in some situations but not other situations. It is humanly impossible to respond to every opportunity to do good. In the coaching setting, you can’t help in every situation. How do you decide when you should meet an athlete’s request for you to spend extra time helping them train, or when you should address a need coming out of a player’s difficult home situation, or whether your team should do something for an under-resourced part of your community? Pray for the Lord to give you wisdom and the ability to discern when the Spirit is leading you to act. As you start from a heart of wanting to do good as much as you can, you can trust God to direct you.

To be a wise coach is to be a good coach: a coach who doesn’t withhold good but joyfully acts for the benefit of others. When you are devoted to doing good in the sphere of influence you have as a coach, you glorify God. As Jesus instructs us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

For reflection: What opportunities is the Lord currently giving you to do good in your sphere of influence? What internal resistance might you need to overcome in these situations? Ask the Lord for his wisdom and power so that you can do what he’s directing you to do.

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