by Shannon Caughey
“You need to get your mind right.” As a coach, you may have said this to your athletes. Perhaps it’s because they are distracted rather than being locked in during practice or competition. Maybe they’re allowing the fear of failure or intimidation at their opponent to impact their perspective. Whatever the case, when athletes focus on the wrong things, it negatively affects the way they compete. To succeed, athletes need to get their mind right.
The same coaching is relevant in life: “You need to get your mind right.” Our perspective can be impacted by all kinds of things that negatively affect how we live. When our focus is off, it undermines our ability to follow and honor Jesus. How then is our thinking transformed so that we coach and live for Christ and his glory?
In this series of devotions, we’re looking at what God’s Word says about training our mind. The Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:1-2 speaks to getting our mind right: “1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
From this passage we see a couple dimensions that are crucial to getting our mind right so that we’re coaching and living for Christ:
1. Remember our identity.
At the beginning of v. 1, Paul gives a reminder of what is true for all who trust and follow Jesus: “you have been raised with Christ.” The New Testament repeatedly tells us that when we surrender in faith to Jesus, we are united to him. Through this faith union, all Christ has done is now applied to us. We are united to him in his death: what Christ accomplished through his sacrificial death for sin is applied to us, enabling us to experience complete forgiveness for our sins. And we are united to him in his resurrection: because Jesus was raised to new life, we have his new life. We are no longer enslaved by the old life of sin and separation from God. Christ’s resurrection life is now in us.
Through his resurrection, Jesus demonstrated his victory over sin, death, and the enemy of our souls. Because we’re united to Christ by faith, this victory is ours as well. As Christ-followers, this is our identity: we have been raised with Christ. When we recognize who we truly are in Christ, it changes how we think – and that transforms how we coach and live. The first dimension of getting our mind right is to remember our identity.
2. Redirect our focus.
Following his reminder of what is true about our identity, Paul gives two directives: “set your hearts on things above” and “set your minds on things above.” The phrase “things above” is not intended to point to something physical (i.e. “look to the sky/stars”). Paul is talking about the heavenly realm of the Most High God: “where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” In this realm or sphere, the good, loving, and righteous reign of the Triune God – his kingdom – is fully realized.
What does it mean to set our hearts and minds on things above? It means we intentionally redirect our focus to Jesus and his kingdom. We reorient our thinking around the character, values, ambitions, and interests of Christ’s kingdom – such that his character, values, ambitions, and interests increasingly saturate our minds and guide our actions. Rather than being distracted or derailed by what the world promotes, we stay focused on Jesus and his priorities.
How does this impact coaching? When you are tempted to angrily lash out at your athletes, redirect your focus to “things above.” Jesus’ reign is good, loving, and righteous. How can you use your words as a coach to point your athletes to what is good, loving, and right – even when they are pushing your buttons? When encountering an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage if you will just compromise your integrity a bit, redirect your focus to “things above.” What does it look like to have the character and values of Jesus in every situation?
All of us have times when we need to get our mind right. As followers of Christ, we want our thinking to be increasingly focused on Jesus and oriented around the ways of his kingdom. Coach, train your mind to be “set on things above, not on earthly things.” Live and coach out of your true identity in Christ.
For reflection: What steps can you take to consistently remember your identity in Christ and redirect your focus to Christ—whether in coaching situations or other life situations? Ask the Lord for his power and strength to enable you to take these steps.