by Shannon Caughey
Imagine being at a key point in a game or competition. Your athletes gather around you as their coach, looking to you to give them what they need to compete successfully. While you want to deliver, what if at that moment you realized that you lacked the insight required to offer something helpful? You would have to honestly say to your players, “Sorry, I got nothing.”
Obviously, you’d never want that imaginary scenario to play out in real life as you coach. So you do your best to fill your mind with the knowledge and insight that’s necessary to properly instruct your athletes during key competitive moments. You want to be able to give them what they really need.
Now consider your influence as a coach more broadly. You can have a transformational role in the lives of your athletes. You can help them grow and develop as complete persons, not just in your sport. Your athletes look to you for insight regarding the bigger questions of character, purpose, and what true success in life looks like. Coaching is a high calling!
To be able to give your athletes what they really need, you must first be filled yourself with what you really need – because can’t give what you don’t have. How can you fulfill this high calling to be a transformational coach? Continually look to Jesus. In this series of devotions, we’re considering the seven “I am” statements Jesus makes in the book of John. These “I am” statements reveal more detail about who Jesus is. When we respond in faith to who he is, he transforms us – enabling us to fulfill this high calling to coach in transformational ways.
Here is Jesus’ first “I am” statement in John (John 6:35): “Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” Jesus alone fills us with what we hunger and thirst for because he is the bread of life. He addresses and satisfies our deepest needs. Jesus alone can rescue us from the eternal consequences we face for our sinful rebellion against God. Jesus alone can give us true and eternal life when we’re spiritually dead in our sin. Jesus alone can transform us into who we are created to be. Jesus alone can give us deep purpose and a life-and-eternity-altering impact on others.
How do we lay hold of this filling work of Jesus, the Bread of Life? Jesus tells us with his two “whoever” declarations: “Whoever comes to me” and “Whoever believes in me.” We must turn away from anything else we’ve been relying on to try to fill our life, coming instead to Jesus. And we must believe in him, which in the Bible means to put our full confidence in him. We surrender in faith to Jesus, trusting him alone to lead us and fill us.
While there is an initial faith surrender to Jesus that brings us into a saving relationship with him and gives us the eternal life he promises, the experience of being filled with Christ involves a daily choice to look to him and trust him. The more we cultivate a deepening relationship with Jesus, the more we’ll keep our “satisfaction in Christ” level on full. Out of this fullness, we’ll be able to give our athletes what they need to help them grow and develop as complete persons. We’ll be ready in key transformational coaching moments to address the bigger questions of character, purpose, and what true success in life looks like.
Coach, you have a high calling! Jesus, the Bread of Life, enables you to fulfill this calling. Keep looking to him and trusting him. As you experience being filled with Jesus, you’ll be able to offer to your athletes the One who alone satisfies our deepest hunger and thirst.
For reflection: Take a moment to hear Jesus say to you, “I am the bread of life.” If you’ve been looking to other things to try to find satisfaction, confess these to him. Express your trust in Christ and your desire to be filled by him.