September 10, 2018

By Paul J. Banta

1 John 4:3-9 says, “But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here. But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.  Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them.  But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception. Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God.   Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. – NLT

In my earlier years of coaching, I loved the game of soccer so much that I forgot to sincerely and honestly love my players the way they needed to be loved.  When we coach our players, we must always bring something to the table (training sessions, meetings, and matches) to them and not something for your ego.  The game was designed for players to play with the help of quality coaching and leadership and let them learn to live and do what you give them more on their own and start backing off.  This is what leadership and mentoring your players is required.  I had to learn why and how I had to love my players more than a win for the coach or because it did something to my ego.  I had to change from being selfish to give all that I had cherished so much to my players for their benefit, not mine.  Giving up and sacrificing is what love is about, what you surrender and to let God take over.

Love is a skill that can be learned but is sometimes hard for us as coaches to show because of the competitive nature of the game and in the desire to win.  We often push the word love and yet our actions of love we put aside.  Over the years it’s been a struggle for me because I don’t like losing matches, but with practice, real love becomes something you can achieve.  Training and repetition will get you moving toward being who God designed for you to be.  Wouldn’t you like to be known as a coach of extraordinary love?  If you don’t, there’s got to be something wrong with you, and you need to sort yourself out without delay.

Most of us wait for years to love as God wants from us or never learn how to love at all.  If you can become an expert in soccer, you can become an expert at relationships and love others better.  The only way you get more skillful at the technical and tactical aspects of the game is to practice at it.  Training through repetition work gives us great success.  The more you do it, the better you become.  The same is true with love.  Let’s practice loving each other more.  1 Timothy 4:15 says, “Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.”  The reason God wants us to love is that He is love, and He created us to be like Him and to love.  He has this as part of His character, and He wants us with the same type of character to serve Him in the game.  The only reason we’re able to love is that God loves us. 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Love comes from God … because God is love.”

We were created in God’s image to do the two things on earth: Learn to love God so we can learn to love to serve others rather than just to help ourselves, because the life He gives us here on this earth is about loving others to bring about dramatic pre-destined changes God has in store for them.  God uses us to help Him do this. He gets great pleasure when He sees us loving on others. When we serve Him this way, we become what He wants for us to be through His great dominant source of love. But love all started with God. He loved us first, and that gives us the ability to love others.  You cannot give to others what you have not received yourself, and so I hope that, as you learn how much God loves you, you’ll also let Him heal your heart so that His love can flow freely through you and into your team.

What’s your next move?