But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”
– Matthew 20:25-28 (Holman Christian Standard)
Motivation is defined as the inclination to pursue and persist. In simple terms, that means to “get after it” and “stay after it”. If you have been in the coaching profession very long, you’re well aware that it’s more difficult to motivate athletes today. It’s harder to get players to come out. There are often better athletes walking the halls of our schools than on the field or court. Players today will quit in a heartbeat. If asked why, the replies include too much work, being burned out or not having fun. They miss practice, they give up when the team starts struggling and they complain about wanting more touches or a lack of playing time. As coaches we know all about the X’s and O’s. We know that having the “Jimmy’s and Joe’s is important too. We need to explore new ways to get athletes out and keep them out. Too often, we cling to the “My Way or the Highway Method”. Many coaches today are finding a better way—coaching the HEART of the athlete. They’re taking time to build relationships with their athletes and getting to know them on and off the field. They’re taking the time to learn what it means to be “servant leaders” and it’s working.
Jesus had some challenges with His team too. The disciples all wanted to be great and Jesus seized the opportunity to explain what it takes to be great. He told them that their thinking was misguided. Greatness is not about having more knowledge or being in a position of authority. Jesus explained that in His Kingdom, things would be different. The ticket to greatness is service. Whoever wants to be great must first become a servant to others. If Jesus came to serve and to give, why would we think He expects anything less from us? God has not put us in our coaching positions with the sole purpose of mastering the X’s and O’s and winning games. He wants us to make an eternal difference in the lives of the young men and women we coach. Jesus calls us not only to coach them, but to serve them. That will require some stretching. How can you connect to the HEART of your athletes?
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus, to model how to serve others. Teach us, wherever You have placed us, to be servant leaders. Help us to understand that You can use us in powerful ways to make a difference for eternity. Amen.