by Shannon Caughey
Sailboats are amazing vessels. In the midst of a storm, a sailboat may get pushed over on its side or even turned completely upside-down by wind or waves. But a sailboat will always right itself. How is this possible? By ensuring that there is always more weight below the waterline than there is above it. Properly operating sailboats have enormous weights secured to the keel below the waterline. Without this unseen substantial weight, the boat would capsize when storms hit. But with this substance below the waterline, it remains stable and secure even in the midst of rough conditions.
The sailboat gives us a picture of what’s true for life and coaching. Most of us function well when circumstances are favorable. But do our thoughts, words, and actions honor Christ when things get stormy? Or does a frustrating sequence by our athletes, a bad call by an official, or a hard situation in another area of life threaten to capsize us?
In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus says, “43 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 44 A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. 45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”
Jesus is addressing the crucial importance of what’s present “below the waterline”: the condition of our heart. Jesus builds genuine substance at the core of who we are as he shapes our hearts, creating within us “the treasury of a good heart.” The greater this substance or “weight below the waterline,” the more we’ll be able to resist what would otherwise capsize us. Instead, our life and our coaching will bring about the good and lasting fruit that Jesus desires.
The key is to put ourselves in positions to allow Jesus to do his substance-building work in us. As we regularly read and study God’s Word, we give the Lord access to shape our identity, our character, and our purpose. As we take a few moments to pray throughout the various parts of our day, we look to Christ to direct or redirect our mind and heart. As we meet with other Christ-followers to help one another grow spiritually, we encourage and challenge each other to live out of hearts set on Jesus and his mission for us.
In our world, most of the attention is given to what people look like on the outside and whether they have the outward trappings of success. This is often true in the coaching world as well. But far too many coaches produce unhealthy and even harmful fruit when hit with the pressures and difficulties of coaching. Their influence is undermined and sadly their relationship and lives can be shipwrecked.
Coaches who produce good and lasting fruit are coaches who prioritize what’s happening “below the water line.” Coach, look to Christ and his substance-building work in you. The more Jesus builds up this “treasury of a good heart,” the more you’ll live and coach in ways that honor him – even in stormy circumstances.
For reflection: What is one “next step” you can take to put yourself in a position to better respond to Jesus’ substance-building work in you? Commit this to him in prayer.