by Shannon Caughey
Your sport is not who you are; it’s what you do. You may have heard this important distinction previously. Participating in sports and being a coach may have significant roles in our life. However, if we look to these things for our identity, we will find that they fail to deliver the ultimate purpose, clarity, and joy that all of us long for. God wants our understanding of who we are to be defined by Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. God desires that we would live—and coach—according to our true identity in Christ.
Over the next several devotions we’ll explore what the Bible says about key dimensions of who we are when we respond in faith to Jesus. A right understanding of our identity helps us have a right perspective on and approach to coaching. And this is an important part of living with genuine purpose, clarity, and joy.
Let’s start with an aspect of our identity described in 2 Corinthians 5:17—“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” To be “in Christ” is to be united to him by faith. When we put our trust in Jesus—believing in his death for our sins and his victorious resurrection, and following him as our Lord and King—he makes us “a new creation.” What does this mean?
Throughout the pages of Scripture, God communicates his ultimate plan: He will renew his dearly loved creation that has been corrupted and damaged by sin. At the heart of this plan is us—people who, while created in God’s image, have rebelled against him and been enslaved to sin. God is bringing his plan into reality through Jesus Christ. Christ’s resurrection three days after his death on the cross is definitive proof of God’s “new creation” work. Jesus rises to new life, and he offers this new life to us when we turn in faith to him. Jesus makes us new creations who are no longer enslaved to our old selves.
Our “new creation” identity has all kinds of implications. Here are just two:
1. Rather than remaining stuck in who we were before coming to Christ, we live and coach according to our “new creation” identity. Paul speaks about this in Colossians 3, directing us as followers of Christ to “put to death” sinful things that used to be part of our life (vv. 5-9). Instead, “put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know our Creator and become like him” (v. 10). Your goals in coaching and life, your character and values, how you speak to and about others, the way you react in various situations—all of this and so much more is being transformed by the Lord to now reflect his good intent for his dearly-loved creation. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “[T]he old has gone, the new has come!”
2. Because our identity is rooted in God’s greater work through Christ, we live and coach for something far bigger than ourselves. The work Jesus does in our life is part of the broader new creation work he is doing, culminating in “the renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:28). The Lord declares in Revelation 21:5, “I am making everything new!” He is carrying out this work here and now, through us as we follow him. According to Bible scholar N.T. Wright, every act we do out of love for God, love for people, and a desire to impact others for Christ and make his name honored in the world “will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.” This includes everything you do, big or small, as you coach for Christ. It all counts toward the greater work God is accomplishing.
Coach, your faith in Christ redefines who you are. You are “Coach,” but more foundationally you are a “new creation.” Knowing who you are in Christ gives you clarity regarding your purpose. You experience fullness of joy as you live out your true identity. Let your “new creation” identity determine your perspective on and approach to coaching.
For reflection: As your identity as a new creation in Christ defines you rather than being defined by your sport, what would change in your perspective on or approach to coaching? Talk with the Lord about this. Ask him to enable you to live according to your “new creation” identity.