by Shannon Caughey
It’s been said that the most powerful motivating force in the universe is love. At one of the schools I serve in my role with FCA, there is a team that is known for playing hard and playing together. The players buy in to what the coach says and the culture being promoted by the coach. When asked about this, several players responded with answers like, “We know that Coach cares about us. We’ve experienced his care for us not just in things related to our sport but in other areas as well.” They thrive because they know that they are loved.
This may be your heart as well, Coach: to genuinely love your athletes. But to love others well—including your athletes—you must be secure in knowing you are loved well. And you can be! This is another essential component of being a “Romans 8 coach”: someone whose coaching reflects the rich truths we see in this much-loved chapter of Scripture about who we are and how we live as followers of Jesus Christ.
In the final verses of Romans 8, the Apostle Paul writes, “38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul is emphatic: “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (v. 38), and “nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God” (v. 39). In between these declarations, he lists several items that might tempt us to question the reality of God’s love. We probably resonate with much of what the list conveys: hard circumstances, spiritual forces of evil that attack us, the anxieties and fears we encounter, things that happen that make us unsure about the future. Our coaching, our life, and our world are filled with unknowns—and what we do know often makes us feel less stable, not more.
Yet we can be completely secure in God’s love no matter what. Why? Because the unshakeable reality of his love is revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, communicated God’s love for us through his teaching and his life. And then he gave ironclad proof of his love through his sacrificial death for us on the cross. When we turn to Christ in faith, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing can ever or will ever separate us from God’s love.
Our security in being unfailingly loved by God motivates us and enables us to genuinely love others. It’s what compels you to love your athletes well, Coach. In fact, you want them to know that nothing can separate them from your love. No matter how big or small their contribution is to the team, or how they perform in a particular competition, or whether they make poor choices in other areas of life, or how they respond to your coaching—may they be sure of your unchanging love for them. Even when you have to correct or discipline them, may they experience how much you care about them individually.
As a Romans 8 coach, be a channel of God’s love. Because you are secure in being loved by God, love others in ways that give them opportunities to experience similar security. Your athletes will thrive when they are genuinely loved by you, and Jesus will shine through you. Love really is the most powerful motivating force in the universe.
For reflection: Take a few minutes to let the truth of Romans 8:38-39 sink deep into your heart: nothing will ever separate you from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thank God for this, and ask him to grow you as a channel of his love to your athletes.