by Shannon Caughey
Coaching has no shortage of challenges. It’s tempting to focus on the things that can make life as a coach hard: long hours of work, unjustified criticism, season-ending injuries to star players, difficult parents, bad weather…and the list goes on. When this is the focus, it leads to complaining, grumbling, and a “poor me” attitude. We don’t like to be around people like this – and people don’t like to be around us if we’re like this!
How can we resist this negative perspective, which undermines our effectiveness as coaches who desire to honor the Lord and influence others for him? One key is how we pray. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We can bring all the challenging things of life and coaching to God in prayer. In addition to expressing our dependence upon him in each of these situations, we do something else: we pray “with thanksgiving.”
That brief phrase has profound implications – and it echoes what we see throughout Scripture. It points to a prayer practice that coaches who are serious about following Jesus must regularly incorporate. A key to resisting negativity and to instead honoring the Lord is to make prayers of gratitude a consistent part of our prayer “practice plan.”
Psalm 92:1 says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.” Psalm 95:2 agrees: “Let us come to him with thanksgiving.” In Psalm 100, the psalmist reiterates this instruction for coming to God in worship and prayer: “4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
How practically can you build this into your life? Two thoughts:
1. As you pray, begin with gratitude. The psalmist encourages us to “come to him with thanksgiving” and to “enter his gates with thanksgiving.” When you begin your prayers by choosing to find reasons to be grateful to God, it changes your perspective on the challenges you’re encountering. Yes, these things are hard. However, since you started by recognizing ways God is graciously working in you and around you, providing for you, giving you good gifts, etc., you’re reminded that you can trust him with current challenges. This helps you resist the temptation to grumble and complain.
2. Look for reasons to say “Thank you, God” throughout the day. Anytime you experience something good during the day, big or small, pause to recognize God’s hand in this and give thanks to him. Anytime something reminds you of his love, his faithfulness, his grace, or anything else about how God relates to you, take a moment to express your gratitude to him. It can be just a quick, silent prayer: “Thank you, God, for _____.” As you develop this habit day by day, it helps you live with joy and confidence in the Lord.
Making prayers of gratitude a consistent part of your prayer “practice plan” is transformational – both for you, Coach, and for those you influence. Your perspective is transformed, which leads to far greater effectiveness in living for Christ’s honor. As you do so, you’ll have an even more significant impact for the Lord on those around you.
For reflection: Take a few minutes to consider the reasons you have for being thankful. Express your gratitude to God for these things.