by Shannon Caughey
Sports psychology has become a huge field. Competitors at all levels recognize the importance of mental training in addition to physical training if they are going to reach their potential. Coaches and athletes can now utilize “mental skills coaches” and “brain trainers” if they choose. The battle for the mind is a critical component in the pursuit of athletic success.
This may be a relatively recent emphasis in sports. However, it has long been central to true success in life: reaching our full potential in Christ. We cannot pursue the Lord’s good design for us in every area—coaching, professional responsibilities, relationships, marriage, parenting, etc.—apart from training our mind. The Bible repeatedly teaches this truth. In this and the next few devotions, we’ll look at what God’s Word says about several key components of training our mind.
Let’s begin with what is foundational: we must renew our mind. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We understand the definition of “renew”: it’s to make or become new again. In Scripture, it is about being restored to God’s original, good intent when he created us – including his good intent for what happens in our minds.
To have our minds made new means that an old way of thinking must be abandoned. We no longer “conform to the pattern of this world.” The “pattern of this world” is the sin-driven, God-ignoring, self-exalting approach that is prevalent all around us. This pattern likely defined much of our thinking previously. But as followers of Jesus, we no longer conform to the pattern of the world. Instead, we are now to “be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.”
To transform something involves far more than tweaking a few aspects. It’s a wholesale change. A renewed mind is one in which core beliefs, perspectives, attitudes, priorities, and ways of thinking have been significantly altered. It’s crucial to recognize how this change happens. It is not by us trying harder to think differently. Rather, we surrender in faith to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. By his power and grace, he then does the work of transforming and renewing our mind. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Titus 3:5 also points to the work Jesus does to transform us and make us new through his Spirit: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
As we trust Christ and respond to his work of renewing our mind, the result is we are “able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” We grow in knowing God’s good design for us in specific situations, we grow in desiring to follow his design, and we grow in taking action to put his design into practice. A transformed mind leads to a transformed will. Doing the right things consistently starts with thinking the right way: God’s way.
To be a truly transformational coach, you need Christ’s gracious, ongoing work to transform you. It’s only as Jesus renews your mind that you can genuinely see your athletes and fellow coaches as he sees them. As Jesus changes your beliefs and values to align with what he says is true, you can coach according to these beliefs and values rather than being sucked into the destructive patterns that the world often promotes. As Jesus transforms your perspective, you can respond in healthy, God-honoring ways to both wins and losses, good seasons and hard seasons. As Jesus reorders your priorities to reflect his heart, you know how to invest time and energy into what makes a lasting impact.
The battle for the mind is critical in life, just as it is in sports. How do you train your mind so that you can reach your full potential in Christ in every area? It begins with looking to Jesus and responding to his work to renew your mind. Therefore, Coach, do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world – including how the world tends to approach coaching. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
For reflection: Ask the Lord to show you the ways in which your thinking still tends to conform to the world rather than God’s good design. Pray that he would help you respond to his work to renew your mind and transform your thinking.