I love to watch coaches. When most people watch sports they watch the athletes to see how they perform and that is true of me too. However, as a student of sports there are many times when I find myself watching the coaches. The fact of the matter is that teams take on the personality of their coaches. One of the main reasons that I don’t like the 49ers is because I don’t like Jim Harbaugh and you can see him reflected in the attitude of his players. Jim is known to fly off the handle and you end up seeing displays like this one.
Teams reflect their coach. This can either scare the crap out of you or inspire you! People are watching you and the people you are leading right now will pick up traits from you, for better or for worse.
See the role of a coach is to set other people up for success. If you are a football coach, you do everything in your power to build a solid game-plan and set your team up to chalk up another W. Ultimately if you can prepare your team enough this leads to trophies, better, pay, etc. There was a time when every coach was the player and they decided the outcome of the game but now it all comes down to how well the team executes.
Our role in student ministry is very much the same. Student ministries will reflect the personality of their leader. The tension we face as student leaders is that our “playing days” are over, so to speak. I will assume that if you are a pastor or leader then you are saved. With that said, your job now is to lead a student to the point of accepting Christ and praying that that student makes Christ Lord of their life. You can script out the perfect “game-plan” but it is up to our students to execute it.
As I was reading my Bible today, I saw this play out at the end of King David’s life.
So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work. – 1 Chronicles 28:10 (NLT)
Then King David turned to the entire assembly and said, “My son Solomon, whom God has clearly chosen as the next king of Israel, is still young and inexperienced. The work ahead of him is enormous, for the Temple he will build is not for mere mortals—it is for the Lord God himself! Using every resource at my command, I have gathered as much as I could for building the Temple of my God. Now there is enough gold, silver, bronze, iron, and wood, as well as great quantities of onyx, other precious stones, costly jewels, and all kinds of fine stone and marble. – 1 Chronicles 29:1-2 (NLT)
See David wanted desperately to build the temple but God wouldn’t let him. David could have taken one of two roads here. David could have sat around and moped for the rest of his days but rather he decided to set Solomon up for success. King David realized all that it would take to complete the temple and he set up the best possible “game-plan” to help Solomon succeed as the new King. David’s “playing days” were over but he saw the potential in Solomon and did all he could do to help him win. David recognized Solomon’s faults and helped transition him into prominence as Israel’s new king.
We need to take action to set those around us up to succeed. Who are you investing in and who are you setting up resources for? Everyone reading this post (parents, students, youth pastors, etc.) has the opportunity and ability to coach someone up so what are you doing to invest in the future?
If I were to ask you what your time in the word looked like, what would your answer be?
- I give God the first 15 minutes of the day.
- I listen to pastors on podcast 3-4 times a week.
- I read my Bible through every year.
- I read my Bible when I prepare my lessons.
There are any number of answers that you could give to this question. Some are good answers and some answers totally break my heart. The first point that I want to make here in this post is to, GUARD your time in the word. This is my number one piece of advice I would give after a year of full-time ministry. GUARD your time in the word and FIGHT for time with God. If you do not guard your time in the word then you cannot be successful in anything else that you are trying to do. There are a million things that vie for your attention each day from parents, to events, to counseling, but you cannot do any of those things if you don’t guard your time in the word.
The answer that breaks my heart the most out of the four that I listed above is, “I read my Bible when I prepare my lessons.” This is like an accountant saying, I study tax code when I’m preparing your taxes. This is like a doctor saying I study the newest surgery procedures when I’m prepping for surgery. There is not one person out there that would say, “yes that is the doctor or accountant that I want to have.”
You were hired to be a shepherd of students! A shepherd is not just one of the sheep, a shepherd is a leader who knows the dangers has lead sheep before and knows what it takes to get the sheep through the various obstacles in their way. If you are going to shepherd your students, then you have to know where you are leading the students. You have to know the word better than your students.
My second question to you would be, if you don’t have a desire to be in God’s word daily, why is that? If God’s word is as life changing as you preach it to be, then why don’t you desire to be in it daily? I am not by any stretch saying that reading the word is always easy for me to read but we need to be disciplined in knowing and reading God’s word.
The reason I say GUARD your time in the word and FIGHT for time with God is because if you are not spending personal time in God’s word then you cannot lead people into the depths of God’s word. If you don’t GUARD your time in the word and FIGHT for time with God, then you may be successful for a time, but there is a shelf life on your ministry.
What are you doing to GUARD and FIGHT for time with God?
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
There is just something about watching the Olympics. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I love watching freakish athletes do things that us normal people can’t do. I love watching Usain Bolt break world records every time he takes the track. I love watching Michael Phelps take home 18 gold medals in a sport that I only get excited about every four years.
I love watching the Olympics for the same reason that I love watching the NBA or NFL more than college sports (I know this may be a blasphemous statement to many of you). The reason I love watching professional sports is because I love watching people who have dedicated their lives to be amazing at something to a level that I know I could never be. The thing is, I could train for years upon years and I’m never going to be able to run anywhere close to Usain Bolt speeds. I am never going to be able to dunk a basketball, especially not “Like Mike.”
The thing about sports is that we all find players and teams and we place a lot of stake in how our team does. For me, the player that I watched and adored we Reggie White. He was a defensive end for the Green Bay Packers and he was also known as “The Minister of defense.” I loved Reggie because he was a believer who was a monster on the football field. We watch these players and think I could never do that and often times we look at the people in scripture the very same way.
The thing is, we look at the apostle Paul and say, “Man I could never suffer like that guy.” We look at Moses and say, “I could never lead people like he did.” We look at the disciples and say, “Those guys were so spiritual and look how they followed Jesus.” However, we forget the fact that all of these guys were normal people who had major flaws, and God chose to use them. Paul was a murderer and called himself the chief of sinner. Moses was terrified to speak and God had to send him someone to be his “voice.” I won’t even go into all of the disciples’ flaws, and this is a very small sampling of scripture as a whole.
The thing that I’m trying to get at is while we all sit absorbed in the Olympics and we cheer on our country, our walk with the Lord is not just a sit and watch faith. Our walk with the Lord is one where every person competes. I may never be the next apostle Paul. I may not be the next Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, or Tim Keller. However, God has a very specific plan for me and what he wants for me to accomplish.
The Olympics are great and I am looking forward to the winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. However, I encourage you to not just sit on the side as people do great things for the cause of Christ. I want you to get out there and compete and I want you to push your students to get our there and compete. There is much too much riding on this race for us to run it half heartedly.