Things You Would Never Say To The Coach
John 15:16 records the words of Jesus: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…” What an amazing truth. God, having infinite options, chose to love us and send His Son to die for us. At great cost, God chose to invite wayward and broken humans to share in His holy and eternal Kingdom’s work. How fantastic it is that we, who are unfit to tie the sandals of John the Baptist, have been counted worthy by Christ, and called to be a part of His team as “instruments of noble purpose” (2 Tim. 2:21).
It feels good to be chosen—to be singled out for an award, exceptional service, or praise. Millions long to receive a phone call or letter announcing that they have been chosen to get the raise, the job, the part, or to be on the team. It feels good to be chosen. You have been chosen.
Not too long ago the Seattle Seahawks started a, we’re looking for a 12th man promotional campaign. It has been exceedingly successful because the masses liked the idea of being a part of the team. ‘Wannabe’ team members spent more than $100,000,000 on 12th Man apparel last year. This indicates that even when the joy of being chosen to be on a team is absent, the desire to feel counted as a part of a good team is so strong that most will pay for overpriced clothing and tickets to do so.
Those chosen to be on professional teams must demonstrate commitment, effort, gratitude, and focus. Do those terms describe your spiritual walk? Those who truly understand the wonder of being chosen by Christ will strive to be committed, and, as Paul writes, “live lives worthy of their calling” (Eph. 4:1).
Two-thousand years ago, Jesus chose 12 disciples—today He is looking for the next true disciple. On His team, players are promised victory and never sit the bench. Are you ready to be His 13th man?
THERE ARE A FEW STATEMENTS NO PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE WOULD EVER MAKE TO THEIR COACH. CONSIDER WHETHER OR NOT THEY APPLY TO YOUR SPIRITUAL WALK.
Seven Things we would never say to the coach
- “I’ll give you my undivided attention—one hour a week.”
Being a Christian is not a part-time job. Christians do not go to church, Christians are the church. That is, Christians are to serve, love, help, share, witness, and warn 24/7. Christians share in worship services not to fulfill a weekly obligation, but to honor God, connect with other Christians and learn how best to develop and employ their spiritual gift(s) through the week. Going to church launches our week—it does not fulfill our spiritual obligation for the week.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
- “I know it’s game time, but I can’t make it today because I need to do some shopping.”
It is true that households are working more hours (outside the home) than ever before. It is tempting to justify not going to church by thinking that you need that time to rest or to address some household chore. But just as one would never say such a thing to their coach, we must not think it appropriate to suggest such a thing to the Lord.
One day Jesus invited a man to be his disciple. What an honor. In Luke 9 we read: [Jesus said to a man], “‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ [Jesus replied], ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-60).
Jesus’ response may sound harsh, but we are to see two things. First, the man’s father was not dead—his comment to Jesus was simply an excuse and an effort to prioritize the things he wanted to prioritize. Second, Jesus’ strong response serves as a reminder that He has high expectations for His followers. He gave His life for us and expects our best efforts in living for Him.
- “NO, I don’t think I can give 10% today.”
Someone noted how strange it is that a hundred-dollar bill looks so small at the grocery store, and so big in the offering plate. Christians who give a minimum of a tithe of their income to support the Lord’s work represent a very small percentage of the Church. Though most believers do not tithe, most believers consider themselves fully committed followers of Christ.
How many of those believers would expect to be chosen for a professional team, or think they would remain on the team, if they told the coach, “I’m on the team, but I can’t give you as much as you expect from me.”
In today’s culture, giving is often viewed as an afterthought, or as a kind of biblical suggestion. It is not a suggestion. In fact, biblical giving is one of God’s litmus tests for spiritual maturity. Simply put, spiritual maturity is marked by giving, and those who give are blessed.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)
“…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35b)
- “Coach, it’s really not important for me to memorize the playbook.”
Studies show that most believers can quote more music lyrics than Psalms, more sports statistics than Bible facts, and more TV sitcom storylines than Bible stories.
Knowing the Word – memorizing the Word is not a suggestion. It is both God’s expectation and a requisite for being a powerful witness.
- Jesus knew the Word and was able to overcome Satan’s temptations by quoting the Word (see Matthew 4).
- King David knew the Word of God was the key to purity and being able to navigate his spiritual walk (Psalm 119:9-11, 111).
- “I don’t think I need to wear ALL of my uniform”
In professional sports, you do what the coach tells you to do, and wear what the coach tells you to wear, or you’re off the team. How can we approach the Kingdom’s work with any less commitment?
There is a reason that a helmet is required gear for professional football players. In the same way, believers must understand that wearing the “full armor of God” is not a recommendation. It is required gear.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13)
- “I’ll stay in the game as long as it’s easy and I am entertained.”
Many link religion with good feelings and comfort. It is true that being forgiven feels good, and that the hope of heaven brings comfort, but Christians should not expect that serving the Lord will be easy. Jesus said that a disciple should not expect to be above his master (Matt. 10:24-25a)
Therefore, the disciple of Christ should expect difficulties and challenges, because that what Jesus experienced. Experiencing trials and tribulation, particularly as we approach the end of time, will be the norm, not the exception. The cost of discipleship is high, but the reward that will come to the good and faithful servant is beyond imagination. Be willing to pay the price.
“…If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
- “I’m here to talk to you about what I want to get from the team, not what I can do to support the team.”
Can you imagine the expression on the coach’s face if a prospective player said this during the interview process? I guarantee there would be no second interview and no invitation to join the team. No coach wants a player who thinks only of himself.
A good coach will look for players who want to do what they can to support the team (not the other way around). If you allow me to continue this analogy, let me say that God is a great coach. And He desires that every team member—every believer, contribute their best in support of the team, which is the Kingdom’s work. “I’m just not getting anything out of church” is not an acceptable excuse to not go to church. Why? Because believers are to focus more on what they bring to the church, how they can support the mission and ministry of the church, and how they can worship God at the church more than what blessings they receive through the ministry of the church.
The proper mindset is: How can I best serve God and others through the ministry of the church—not how can the church be a blessing to me. And remember, when our priorities are right, and we invest in the right things, there will be an eternal reward.
- “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35; Gal. 2:20)
- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21)
Two-thousand years ago, Jesus did not focus on gathering great crowds; He focused on finding and discipling the committed. It is the same today. Jesus values commitment. It honors God when Christians are Christ-like—bold, brave, faithful, and truly committed to following as God leads.
Key passages to consider
- “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom …Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and…drive out demons and…perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:21-23)
- “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you…For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will [ask], ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you… drink? When did we…invite you in, or…clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:31-40)
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