by Shannon Caughey
A well-circulated story attributed to Christopher Wren speaks of an incident that happened after the great fire of 1666 that leveled London. Wren, a world-famous architect, was commissioned to rebuild St Paul’s Cathedral. One day Wren observed three bricklayers working on this project that took almost four decades to complete. He asked each bricklayer the same question: “What are you doing?” The first bricklayer replied, “I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.” The second responded, “I’m building a wall.” The third bricklayer, however, had a different perspective, saying, “I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty.”
If someone asked you what you are doing as a coach, how would you respond? You might reply, “I’m working hard to have a competitive season.” Or you might say, “I’m building a successful program.” A different perspective, however, would be, “I’m leading young men or young women to become the people God created them to be.” There is nothing wrong with the first two responses. But when you coach with the third perspective—which is the heart of being a transformational coach—you have a chance to make a life-changing, eternity-altering impact.
You might desire to coach with this perspective. However, the grind and pressures that often characterize coaching seem to conspire against it. How, then, do you keep pursuing truly transformational coaching day by day? Grab hold of the insight Paul gives as he commends believers in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 – “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Living out a long-term, transformational coaching perspective is all about “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Biblical hope is the confident expectation that God will fulfill his promises in the future because he has demonstrated his faithfulness in the past. As we see in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, this hope is inseparable from faith and love. We trust Jesus’ work in the present based on the definitive proof of his identity and purposes already given through his life, death, and resurrection. We work for the good of others out of love for them because we are secure in Christ’s sacrificial love for us.
Fueled by this faith and love, our hope in Jesus inspires us to endure current difficulties because we are confident in the future Christ makes possible. Think about how this applies to coaching. Maybe you have some athletes who are especially challenging. From a human perspective, they don’t seem interested in what you’re communicating about character and purpose. Or perhaps your efforts to love your team well don’t appear to be bearing fruit. From a human perspective, you’re not making a dent in the suspicious or self-focused walls around your athletes’ hearts.
But as someone who trusts and follows the Lord Jesus Christ, you don’t coach with a merely human perspective. Adopt the hope-inspired perspective that Jesus gives. This perspective compels you to keep pouring into the lives of your athletes because you are confident in how Christ can transform them. This perspective encourages you to continue loving your team sacrificially because you believe Jesus can soften their hearts. When you adopt this hope-inspired perspective, you refuse to let the grind and pressures of coaching undermine the daily opportunity to be a transformational coach.
May this be true of how you coach – that your work is done by faith, your labor is prompted by love, and you endure because you are inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t lose sight of what you’re doing: leading young men or young women to become the people God created them to be.
For reflection: What is hindering you from coaching with the hope-inspired perspective Jesus gives? Take a few minutes to talk with the Lord about this, asking him to help you adopt this perspective day by day.