by Shannon Caughey
A prevalent coaching temptation is this: even after a big win or a successful season, you start to worry about what is next. What if this big win creates complacency in your athletes and they underperform in upcoming games? What if next season is a struggle because you won’t have your current seniors who are graduating? And if things aren’t going very well currently, the temptation to worry about what’s ahead can be even stronger.
It’s easy to get sucked into anxious speculation about the future. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus instructs us to resist this: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Jesus knows we’re prone to becoming anxious about various things, but this is not God’s good design for us. So Jesus spends some time in Matthew 6 teaching on this theme of “do not worry about your life” (Matt. 6:25-34) – whether it’s worrying about how our needs will be met today or how things we care about (like sports) will unfold tomorrow.
We hear Jesus’ words and we want to do what he says. We’d much prefer to experience Jesus’ promise of “my peace I give you” (John 14:27) than to live with continuing anxiety. How is it possible to follow the instructions of Christ so we think rightly about the future? According to what Jesus teaches, first we must be willing to lose and then we must pursue the right win.
1. Lose the illusion of control.
Just before his “do not worry about your life” teaching, Jesus confronts his followers with this question (Matt. 6:24): “What master are you serving?” Who or what is in control of our life? Worry is a failure to trust that the sovereign, loving, and good God of the universe is in control of all, including our life and future. The first step to combating worry is to lose the illusion that we’re actually in control. Instead, we recognize that God is the great King who reigns over all (Psalm 47:2), and we look with confidence to him.
2. Win today for God’s kingdom.
In Matthew 6:33, as Jesus is wrapping up his teaching on “do not worry about your life” and just before he concludes with “so don’t worry about tomorrow,” Jesus says this: “But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The alternative to worrying about what will happen tomorrow is to instead focus on living for God as our King today. It may be an oft-repeated sports cliché but it has merit: “Go 1-0 today.” We seek to go 1-0 for God’s kingdom today. Focus on joyfully living under God’s reign in our own life and pointing people to King Jesus in our sphere of influence today. When tomorrow comes, we’ll have another opportunity to do it again.
Only God knows what the future holds, including in the world of sports. While you don’t know what will unfold in the weeks or seasons ahead, you can be confident of this: our Sovereign Lord is wise and faithful. Think rightly about the future by resisting the temptation to worry about it. Instead, let go of the illusion of control and seek to win today for God’s kingdom. As you do this one day at a time by Christ’s power and grace, your coaching and your life will glorify the Lord both now and in the future.
For reflection: In prayer, lay down before God your anxieties about the future. Praise him for his sovereign control over all. Commit to seeking first his kingdom today and ask him for specific guidance regarding how to pursue this.