by Shannon Caughey
It’s natural to think that to achieve big success, we have to take big steps. The “go big or go home” perspective seems right in sports – and there are certainly helpful dimensions to it. But in many situations the path to success is actually about starting with small and seemingly insignificant steps.
Much of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels focuses on the kingdom of heaven or God. In talking about God’s kingdom, Jesus is not referring primarily to a realm or place (the term “heaven” is sometimes used in place of “God” in Matthew because his primarily Jewish audience felt God’s name was too sacred to say, so they substituted it with “heaven”). Jesus’ emphasis is on the rule or reign of God as King. When in Matthew 6:33 we are commanded by Jesus to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else,” he’s instructing us to give our full allegiance to God as our King and to desire that God’s reign as King will increasingly transform the world around us.
How does this get worked out in everyday situations? Jesus shares several parables in which he says, “The Kingdom of Heaven/God is like…” Parables are stories using something familiar to the audience in order to highlight a spiritual truth. Here’s one of these Kingdom parables: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)
In Jesus’ day, everyone was familiar with how tiny a mustard seed was and yet how it grew to become a disproportionately large tree. Jesus’ point: the work God is doing to bring his reign as King to bear on our lives and on this world may seem small and even insignificant at first. However, as we trust him, he will grow this work and bring about disproportionately significant results.
Consider your desire to make an impact for Christ as you coach. It’s tempting to think you need to take big steps or do big things for this to happen – the “go big or go home” approach. Perhaps God is instead directing you to take some “mustard seed-size” steps and to trust him.
For example, maybe you realize that while you say you want to follow and honor Christ as a coach, you’re investing little to no time in actually growing your relationship with the Lord. Take a mustard seed-size step of committing 5-10 minutes each day – preferably at the same time each day so it becomes a habit – to read the Bible and pray. This daily habit may not seem like much, but God can bring about significant results in your life through this mustard seed-size step.
If you’re married, are you giving your best time and energy to coaching, leaving your spouse (and kids if you have children) with only the leftovers? Rather than getting stuck in a mindset like “I don’t have enough hours in the day to coach well and still spend lots of time with my spouse/family,” consider a mustard-seed size step. Maybe this involves committing to giving your spouse/family your undivided attention for 30 minutes right away when you get home. Or perhaps you can commit to making Sunday afternoons off-limits for thinking about or working on coaching items. Any coaching work you need to do on Sundays could be delayed until the evening, enabling you to give quality time and energy to your spouse/family after you’ve worshiped the Lord together at your church that morning.
To be a Kingdom coach – one who is making an impact for Christ – it’s essential that you’re growing and being transformed by Jesus personally. The foundation of Kingdom coaching is God’s reign as King becoming increasingly evident in your life. Mustard-seed size steps like the above examples can bring about significant results over the long-term. As you seek to coach for Christ, the approaches you implement or changes you make may also seem mustard-seed-like at first. Yet this is often exactly how the Lord works to do great things over time.
There’s a place for “go big or go home.” But don’t sell short the significant potential of seemingly insignificant steps when it comes to being a Kingdom coach. Look to the Lord, live and coach for him day by day, and trust his work to bring his reign as King to bear on your life and on the lives of those you influence.
For reflection: Spend a few minutes considering what mustard-seed size steps God is leading you to take to grow personally and to coach for him. Trust the Lord that he can bring about significant results from what may at first seem like insignificant steps.