by Shannon Caughey
You know the importance of coaching the mind of your athletes, not just their physical skills. An athlete whose mind is not right will struggle to succeed, even if they are physically gifted. Because of this, you seek to help your athletes develop things like consistent motivation, confidence, and mental toughness. In sport, having the right mindset matters.
The same is true in life: Having the right mindset matters. It’s essential to thriving in being the people that God designed us to be. It’s a foundational component of being a “Romans 8 coach”: someone whose coaching reflects the rich truths we see in Romans 8 about who we are and how we live as followers of Jesus Christ. In this series of devotions, we’re exploring what this looks like—including what it means for our mindset.
In Romans 8:5-6, Paul writes, “5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”
As we talked about in the previous devotion, an important theme in Romans 8 is the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in the lives of followers of Jesus. Before responding in faith to Christ, we were dominated by our sinful nature—that is, minds and hearts infected by our sinful rebellion against God. But now that we “belong to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1)—receiving by faith his salvation and forgiveness for our sins, surrendering to him as our Leader and King—we experience Jesus’ work to transform us from the inside-out. He carries this out through his Spirit who dwells within us.
A key dimension of the Spirit’s work is to change the way we think (v. 5): “those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” What pleases the Spirit is that our thinking focuses on Jesus—the truths of who Jesus is and what he desires for our lives. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that the Spirit “will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26). Jesus goes on to say that the Spirit “will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me” (John 16:14).
What also pleases the Spirit is that we’re motivated to pursue character that reflects Jesus. This is what Galatians 5:22-23 refers to as the fruit of the Spirit. These Christ-like character qualities—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—are rooted in “think[ing] about things that please the Spirit.”
Our mindset matters. If we continue to let our sinful nature control our mind, it “leads to death” (v. 6). Allowing the world around us to dictate what we desire, how we think about success, what we determine is important, and how we view other people is ultimately destructive—for us and for those we influence, such as our athletes. But a Spirit-controlled, Christ-centered mindset “leads to life and peace.” That’s what we hunger for, and that’s what those we influence are hungering for as well.
This raises some challenging yet needed questions we must ask ourselves: “Do I have the right mindset? Am I surrendering control of my mind to the Spirit, or am I allowing my old sinful nature to determine the way I think?” As you go about coaching, do your thoughts and motivations glorify Christ? Do they reflect Jesus and his heart? Does your mindset lead you to act and interact with the character of Jesus?
A Romans 8 coach recognizes the importance of the mind. Respond to the Spirit’s ongoing work to transform your thinking. Daily surrender your mind to the Spirit’s control as he directs you to become more like Jesus. Confess where your thinking has been polluted by sin rather than being set on Christ.
The right mindset matters. The mindset of a Romans 8 coach leads to life and peace.
For reflection: Ask the Spirit to show you areas of sin in your thinking. Confess these to the Lord and receive his gracious forgiveness. Surrender your mindset to the Spirit, expressing your desire to think about things that please the Spirit.