by Shannon Caughey
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” So writes A.W. Tozer as he opens his book, The Knowledge of the Holy. The way we think about God impacts how we relate to him, how we view ourselves, and how we determine the purpose of every dimension of our life – including our role as “Coach.” That’s why it is so important to be a coach who knows God according to how God reveals himself through the pages of Scripture.
I sometimes hear coaches or athletes refer to God as “The Big Guy” or “The Big Man Upstairs.” While this may seem relatively harmless, what does talking about the Lord in these terms say about what we think about God? Does it accurately reflect who God is? Does it lead us to rightly understand how we relate to him, view ourselves, and pursue our true purpose in coaching and life?
One of the names repeatedly used of God in the Bible is “Holy One.” We see this throughout Scripture, but it is especially the case in the book of Isaiah. God is referred to as the Holy One more than 25 times in Isaiah. Perhaps this is because of what happens when the Lord appears to the prophet Isaiah in chapter 6. Isaiah writes, “1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.”
What the seraphim emphasize about the Lord is his holiness. Because this is so central to who God is, they repeat it three times: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” To be holy is to be set apart or separate. God is wholly other: separate from his creation, exalted above all else. Far more than just “The Big Man Upstairs,” the Lord is awesome in his moral and spiritual perfection. He is the Holy One.
How does knowing God as the Holy One lead us to respond? First, we relate to God with deep humility. When Isaiah encounters this God who is holy, he cries, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…” (Isa. 6:5). He is immediately aware of his sinfulness – the lack of holiness of he and his people. As a sinful man in the presence of the Holy One, Isaiah knows that he deserves to be punished for his sin. Instead, God graciously cleanses him and takes away his guilt so that Isaiah can be in his presence (vv. 6-7).
Like Isaiah, our sin creates a barrier to being able to approach God. But God comes to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus lives the perfect, sinless life that we fail to live. In John 6:69, Simon Peter says to Jesus, “We know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus, the Holy One in the flesh, then takes the penalty for our sin in our place through his death on the cross. When we surrender in faith to him, he graciously cleanses us and takes away the guilt of our sin. We can now be in the presence of our Holy God. This compels us to relate to God with deep humility. Rather than treating him with a flippant or utilitarian perspective, we humbly come to him and experience the joy of being welcomed into the presence of the Holy One.
Knowing God as the Holy One also motivates us to pursue holiness in how we coach and live. 1 Peter 1:15 gives this directive: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” To be holy in all we do is to embrace being set apart by the Lord to pursue his purposes in every dimension of our life. Rather than going along with the sin or the self-centered practices that may characterize those around us, we desire to think, speak, and act according to the holy character of Christ. The Holy One is our standard in coaching, not what other coaches may be doing. We want to be holy because we know and are loved by the Lord who is holy.
May this be one of the things that comes to mind when you think about God: he is the Holy One. Knowing God as the Holy One transforms how we live and coach for him.
For reflection: Take a few minutes to praise God because he is holy. Thank him for making it possible through Christ for you to be welcomed into his presence. Commit to pursuing holiness in how you coach and live.