John serves our YMCA as Youth and Adult Sports Director. He is passionate about what he does and it shows in how he serves the Y community, as well as the community at large. Not only does John lead our coaches and sports staff here at the Y, he is also the head coach for a local high school’s junior varsity girls’ basketball team. And he loves it. He is truly a coach at heart, because at the JV level there is no season-ending tourney, no state rankings, and not much glory. But you probably wouldn’t notice that in the way his girls play, and the way he encourages them. John’s role is to teach them the game, develop their skills, prepare them for life, and the next level of play.
I had the opportunity a few weeks back to attend one of John’s games. It was a great experience to watch a coach at work. Throughout the game, John gave instructions to his team, reminded them during various time-outs of what they practiced the week before, encouraged the girls to give their best effort, and yes, even gave the referee a comment or two (positive, of course) about how he felt they were doing their job. That’s what a coach does, isn’t it?
Reflecting back on that evening in the high school gym, I am reminded of the image we’re given in Scripture of the body of Christ, His church, and how we should relate to one another in this “community” of faith. Numerous times, through those chosen to pen God’s words to His people, we are exhorted to be encouragers, coaches if you will. Here’s a few examples of what I am talking about:
“Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.” I Thessalonians 5:11
“We urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” I Thessalonians 5:14
“Encourage one another daily.” Hebrews 3:13
According to Merriam-Webster, to encourage means to “inspire with courage, spirit or hope.” A similar definition I once heard was, “to instill courage in another.” I sometimes wonder what our communities, churches, organizations, or families might look like if, as followers of Christ, we were “daily” passing courage to those around us. Instead of finding fault, offering praise. Searching out those who are “disheartened” and infusing them with the courage to keep going. Truly desiring complete “restoration” for those who have messed up or given up. I think things would certainly be different, and those who felt hopeless might find the hope they need to carry on.
I don’t know about you, but I needed this message. I am encouraged by John’s example as a coach to be more mindful of my words, and the power they have to lift up a friend and give them courage, hope, and spirit. The words we give may just be the courage they need to win whatever game, or battle, they are facing.
It’s game time! Our moment to shine! Let’s go team!
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. –Proverbs 18:21
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