by Shannon Caughey
It takes courage to coach. You need guts to make in-game, often-quick decisions that can directly impact the outcome. Absorbing the criticism coaches receive – much of it unfair – requires fortitude. It takes courage to coach for Christ’s honor and stand firm in biblical values when there is immense pressure to do otherwise.
Coaches don’t always feel full of courage. Because of all you have to deal with, there are likely times when you feel beat down and discouraged. When those days or seasons come, where can you find encouragement?
You’ve probably heard it said that to encourage is to “put courage in.” It takes more than personal willpower to be encouraged. When we instead look to God’s Word, we find truths about God’s promises to us. Embracing these truths “puts courage in” us. In this and the next several devotions, we’ll look at some of God’s promises that bring great encouragement.
Here’s one promise God makes again and again in the Bible: “I will be with you.” As the book of Joshua opens, Moses – the long-tenured, beloved leader of Israel – has died. Joshua is suddenly promoted from the assistant coach to the head coach role. His job is now to bring Israel, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands, into the land of promise after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. This will require overcoming formidable opposing armies while guiding people who have a history of not always responding well to leaders. Understandably, Joshua is unsure whether he’s ready.
In Joshua 1, God gives this repeated charge to Joshua: “6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous… 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged…” How is it possible for Joshua to be strong and courageous rather than afraid and overwhelmed? God continues with this promise in v. 9: “for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God’s abiding presence with him is what “puts courage into” Joshua. Knowing that God is with him fills Joshua with strength, confidence, and hope. A few verses earlier (v. 5), God assures Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” No matter what Joshua faces, he knows he is never alone. He can be encouraged because the all-powerful and perfectly-wise God of the universe is present with him.
We see multiple times in the Bible that the Lord gives this same promise to each of us who have put our faith in him. One example: after his resurrection and just before he ascends into heaven, Jesus commissions his followers to now carry out his mission. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” This charge is for us just as it was for his initial followers. Similar to what Joshua was instructed to do, it’s a huge calling! How is it possible for us to do this when there are so many opposing forces that can bring intimidation and discouragement? Because of Jesus’ promise (v. 20): “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
From the moment you surrender in faith to Jesus Christ, his presence is now with you. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. Whatever the coaching or life situation, you are never alone and never on your own. You can know that the all-powerful and all-wise Lord and King is with you. Let this promise of his abiding presence “put courage into” you. As you trust what God repeatedly says is true, it will fill you with strength, confidence, and hope.
Be encouraged, Coach. The Lord is with you.
For reflection: Take a few moments to let Jesus’ promise to you sink into your heart in a fresh way: “Surely I am with you always.” Thank him for his presence with you.