January 21, 2019

By Paul J. Banta

John 15:14-18 says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.  You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other. If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” – NLT

I remember when one of my teams finally got into the NCAA Division 1 Soccer Tournament after being nationally ranked. This was on what was probably the smallest operating budget in the USA. I had to mark fields, help repair the grass on the training soccer fields, and purchase replacement sod out of my pocket. I had to raise money to hire support staff and recruit players. Would you believe my entire recruiting budget was $1,500 for the year? This covered recruiting trips, postage, stationery, phone calls, and players’ visits. It was worse than a small high school travel budget.

By now you’re thinking, it can’t be possible. How did you make it into the NCAA tournament on a budget like that? It was commitment! It took a total consuming of my time and year-round, working eighty plus hours weekly. I knew I had to sacrifice more than a coach who had plenty of money to make their program work. So, I did whatever it took because I was committed to my players, job, community and I knew what price I needed to pay if my players were ever going to feel the grass under their feet during a match in an NCAA soccer tournament. There were many other years when extraordinary personal sacrifices were made by our players, by my staff, and by myself so the team could be the winner they work so hard to be. I learned that if you want to win badly enough, you’ll give up part of your life and even your health. You’ll roll up your sleeves, pull up your bootstraps, and go for all it’s worth.

Real Commitment for Christian Coaches means more than the hard work and emotional energy. It sacrifices taken on and off the field. A significant level of mature spiritual commitment is also required to have success for you and your player’s spiritual empowerment, which coaches have the responsibility to develop in your program. If you’re going to serve the Lord through your passion for the game, you need to put in extra time to commit to your spiritual concerns for yourself and your team. Guess what? It’s a hard battle, and the devil’s going around messing about with your life and what God wants from you. You can’t go it alone and do it all by yourself. You’ll find that inner strength and peace will come only through the power of the Holy Spirit expressing Himself through you. Get ready for your higher level of serving the Lord in the game.

John 16:13 says, “The Spirit of truth [the Holy Spirit] will guide you into all truth.” If you’re struggling to find a better way to do what you face daily, you need to start taking some risks with Jesus. You need to make the tough choices being more committed to the Lord about using your maturing faith, remaining committed to Christ, and using the empowering of the Holy Spirit believing God will work His purpose through the daily grind of completing His work by your good efforts. Remember, you were selected to do soccer for the Lord and He chose you. You didn’t pick Him. You’re on His team and nobody else’s.

What’s your next move?