By Shannon Caughey
You desire to have a truly transformational impact through your coaching. How do you actually do this? As a coach, there is certainly a need for you to exercise proper authority and discipline. Especially in our culture today, many athletes benefit from learning to respect those in leadership over them. But does there need to be more to the relationship your players have with you if you’re going to maximize your influence for their good?
In this series of devotions, we’re looking at names and titles of God in Scripture. As we more fully know who God is and how we rightly relate to him, this impacts how we coach and live. We’ve already seen that God is Most High, the great King over all the earth. He is also Yahweh, the Lord: eternal, unchanging, always fully who he is as God. He is worthy of our awe and complete respect.
But there is more to who God is. Jesus says that we can know God not only as the Most High and the Eternal King, but also as our Father. When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus responds, “This is how you should pray: ‘Father, may your name be kept holy…’” (Luke 11:2). We are enabled to experience God as our Father through the sacrificial death of Jesus for our sins and his victorious resurrection: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ… God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:3, 5).
When we surrender our lives in faith to Jesus Christ, we receive incredible spiritual blessings through what he has done for us. We are rescued from being separated from God because of our sin, and we are adopted into his family. The Most High God draws us near to himself through Christ and desires for us to now know him as “Father.” Romans 8:15 affirms this truth: “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’”
“Abba,” the Aramaic word for “Father,” carries the sense of a close family relationship. To know God as “Abba, Father” gives us such security. We are secure in knowing that God the Father has made us a full and eternal member of this family – and this “gave him great pleasure” (Eph. 1:5)! We are secure in knowing our Father always welcomes us when we come to him. We can freely come to our Father with gratitude and praise, with questions and concerns, with requests for insight and help, with doubts and fears, or with anything else. And we are secure in knowing our Father cares deeply for us as his dearly loved children.
Think about the effect on your coaching as your knowledge of God as Father deepens. The security you experience in your relationship with the Father is transformational for you. What if your athletes experienced a similar security because of how you relate to them? This would mean making sure your athletes know you truly view them as part of your family – and you’re glad they are members of this family. Beyond saying, “My office door is always open,” this would mean finding other ways to let them know you welcome interaction with them about anything – because their life outside of sports is just as important to you as what they do as an athlete. This would mean making it your priority to demonstrate genuine care for each athlete.
God desires for you to know him as Father, and he makes this possible through Christ. Coach, keep deepening your relationship with your Father. Let this closeness with God the Father then guide how you relate to your athletes. Yes, your athletes need proper respect for your authority so that they respond to your leadership in healthy ways. But you’ll maximize your transformational impact as your athletes also experience genuine family closeness in how you relate to them. May they know God the Father’s love and care through you as their coach.
For reflection: Take a few minutes to praise God because he is Abba, Father. Thank him for adopting you into his family when you put your faith in Christ. Rest in the security of his loving care for you.