by Shannon Caughey
I have been around coaches who are pessimistic. They expect the worst and tend to focus on what might impede the success of their team. Not surprisingly, when something does go wrong, their athletes tend to struggle to keep competing with the positive energy needed to overcome setbacks. I have also been around coaches who are filled with hope. They genuinely believe in the potential of their team even when the short-term results don’t seem to reflect this. Their athletes tend to be more resilient when setbacks come, often leading to more competitive success as the season progresses.
Most coaches desire to coach with infectious hope (though there are a few who seem content to remain in the “cranky pessimist” category!). Yet there is a difference between coaching with superficial hope vs. coaching with substantive hope. Superficial hope is wishing for a positive future but having no real basis for believing this future could actually become reality. This hope feels shaky when encountering setbacks in the present. Substantive hope is a confident expectation for a positive future that is built on reliable facts and promises. Because it’s founded on the substance of something real rather than mere wishful thinking, this hope enables us to push through present setbacks and push ahead toward a better future.
The key to coaching with difference-making hope is to be someone whose own life is filled with substantive hope. How can we have such hope? We look to what we’re celebrating this Easter Sunday: the resurrection of Jesus. Here’s how 1 Peter 1:3 puts it: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Three days after he was executed on a Roman cross—bearing in himself the just penalty for our sinful rebellion against God even though he was the sinless Son of God—Jesus rose bodily from the dead. This is exactly what he repeatedly promised he would do (e.g., Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34). Through his resurrection, Jesus definitively confirmed his identity as the Son of God, Lord of all, and Savior of the world. Through his resurrection, Jesus demonstrated his victory over sin, death, and the enemy of our souls—enabling us to be rescued from our sin and given new birth into God’s family. Because of his resurrection, Jesus is alive and fulfilling his promises to be present with us (Matt. 28:20) and to work in and through us with the same power that raised him from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20). Because of Christ’s resurrection, the Bible’s promises of our future resurrection and eternal life with the Lord are sure.
It’s no wonder Peter proclaims that we who have surrendered in faith to Jesus Christ have a “living hope”! This is not mere wishful thinking that is easily terminated when we come up against hard things. This is truly substantive hope: hope built on the fact that our Savior is alive and at work. Every promise he made can be trusted. Why? Because Christ already demonstrated through his resurrection the power to fulfill his word.
Coach, when you put your trust in Jesus, your life is filled with “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This transforms how you coach. Because you are confident in God’s merciful work in you, you coach with the hope of continuing to grow in the Christ-reflecting character that honors him and impacts others. Because you are confident in the ability of Jesus to work through you, you coach with the hope of seeing God-directed transformation in the lives of those in your sphere of influence. Because you are confident in how Christ redeems present circumstances to bring about the future he desires, you coach with hope in the face of adversity rather than giving into “woe is me” perspectives.
As you celebrate Easter, be encouraged by what Jesus has done for you and the living hope this gives you. Be a hope-filled coach because of the resurrection of Christ. Those you influence are longing for this real, substantive hope to be imparted to them as well.
For reflection: Take some time to praise Jesus because he is the Risen Christ. Praise him for his victory over sin, death, and the enemy of our souls. Thank him for the living hope he gives you through his resurrection.