by Shannon Caughey
I’ve heard numerous people share about the impact on their life of a coach they had many years in the past. These people don’t talk about the sport-specific skills that coach taught them or the brilliant strategic moves that coach made during games. Instead, they point to the character of their coach: how he or she consistently spoke and acted in the right way in various situations. Because of this, they respected and trusted their coach – and they wanted to emulate what they saw modeled by their coach. Character counts in coaching.
How do you keep developing and living out the right character? One crucial aspect of ongoing growth in character is prayer. We’re thinking about “prayers of a coach” in this series of devotions: prayer practices we see in the Bible that coaches who are serious about following Jesus must practice as well. Prayer for character is an important part of a coach’s prayer “practice plan.”
When the Apostle Paul shares with Christ-followers in Philippi how he’s praying for them, listen to what he includes (Philippians 1:9-11): “9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.”
Paul prays that they would “live pure and blames lives” (v. 10) and would have “righteous character” (v. 11) – central components of “understand[ing] what really matters” in life (v. 10). We would do well to follow his example! Looking more closely at this passage, here are three prayers to build into your prayer “practice plan” as part of developing and living out the right character:
1. Pray for growth in loving Jesus and others well.
When Paul writes, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more” (v. 9), he’s talking about both love for the Lord and love for other people. The more we love the Lord, the greater our eagerness to honor him and live the way he desires. The deeper our love for the people around us – including those we coach – the greater our eagerness to speak and act for their ultimate benefit. Regularly praying for growth in love leads to growth in character.
2. Pray that you would reflect the character of Jesus.
The “righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ” (v. 11) is speaking, acting, and relating to others just as Jesus would if he were in your situation. Every day brings unique opportunities and challenges. Pray that you would reflect the character of Jesus in each situation as you go through the day.
3. Pray that you would speak and act by the power and grace of Jesus.
Thankfully, we’re not on our own to try to live out the right kind of character. You can reflect the character of Jesus because this character is “produced in your life by Jesus Christ.” It’s by his power and grace that you can coach and live according to his character, no matter what the situation! Ask the Lord to help you draw upon his power and grace in how you speak and act. Praying consistently for this enables you to depend upon Christ rather than trying to go it alone.
Character counts in coaching. As you make prayers for character part of your ongoing prayer “practice plan,” the impact you make will be significant. And “this will bring much glory and praise to God” (v. 11).
For reflection: Take a few minutes to pray for growth in character. Pray that by Christ’s grace and power, you would increasingly reflect his character and be pure and blameless in every situation.