by Shannon Caughey
Coaches say this all the time: “control what you can control.” It’s a needed reminder to their athletes (as well as themselves) to focus on their role and responsibilities rather than worrying about other things. They have the best chance of succeeding when they work on what’s within their control and trust others with what is beyond their control.
This “work and trust” approach is also a good reminder for how to pursue being a coach who makes an impact for God’s kingdom. In this series of devotions, we’re looking at Kingdom parables Jesus shares: stories that illuminate what it means to give our full allegiance to God as our King and to be channels through which his reign increasingly transforms the people and the world around us. According to the next parable we’re considering, being a Kingdom coach involves rightly applying a “control what you can control” understanding.
Here’s how Jesus puts it in Mark 4:26-29 – “26 Jesus also said, ‘The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. 28 The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.’”
So much of what happens in the process of a seed eventually becoming a crop ready for harvest is outside of the farmer’s control. The farmer cannot make the seed sprout and grow. The farmer isn’t responsible for the leaf blade pushing through or the head of wheat forming. The farmer has no ability to cause the grain to ripen. What is the role the farmer needs to fulfill? He “scatters seeds on the ground.” The work of the farmer is to sow the seed. He then must trust what’s beyond his control: “the earth produces crops on its own.”
Jesus utilizes this parable to highlight this: so much of what happens in the process of God’s reign spreading and transforming the people and world around us is outside of our control. We cannot make someone respond to the gospel of Christ. We have no ability to cause another person to love Jesus and follow him as Lord and King. We can’t force those we lead and coach to become people whose heart and character reflect Christ.
What is our role? Like the farmer, we sow the seed: the seed of the gospel, the seed of God’s Word, the seed of the Kingdom of God. In our sphere of influence, the Lord entrusts us with the work of sowing this seed. We then trust God with all the rest that is beyond our control. As we sow the seed of the gospel, we trust the Lord to carry out his gracious work of drawing people to himself so that they willingly follow him as King. As we sow the seed of God’s Word, we trust God to cause his Word to bear fruit in those we influence, transforming them from the inside out.
Coach, embrace this “control what you can control” approach as you pursue Kingdom coaching. Each day is an opportunity to work and trust. Through Christ’s power and grace, each day work at what God has put within your control: loving others with his love and pointing them to Jesus through your words and actions. Each day work at living according to God’s Word in your attitudes, communication, behavior, leadership, and relationships.
And each day, trust God to do what he alone can do. As you sow Kingdom seed, trust his gracious work in the people around you – even when you can’t see it. Trust the Lord and what he has promised: he will grow his Kingdom and bring about an eternal harvest.
For reflection: In your setting, what does it look like for you to sow Kingdom seed and trust God’s work? Take a few minutes to talk with the Lord about this.