Trusting Coach – is it worth it?

One of the joys of my life is coaching my six-year-old daughter’s soccer team. Our recent practice conditions aren’t anything to complain about…70-80 degrees typically, breezy, and sunny. Yet, the girls want a water break approximately every 5 minutes. Running for very long becomes an unwelcome chore. And standing still long enough to learn what a corner kick is? Well, let’s just say that ladybugs and passing trains win the battle for attention pretty easily. My job as their coach is to teach them the rules of soccer, but often I am able to share some rules of life: We have to work hard at the task at hand, that it isn’t easy to become good at your sport or hobby, and that KNOWING how to do something will make DOING it infinitely more fruitful.

As it turns out, that lesson is as true for adults as it is for children. It’s as true in our spiritual lives as it is in our work, relational, and physical lives. Spiritual growth, change, a life surrendered to following a Holy God…not easy. It’s one reason that in our Membership class focusing on community, we stop to discuss the necessity of choosing commitment over chemistry, commitment over convenience, and commitment of comfort. We discuss the four stages of community, in which we realize that a time is coming when we’ll want to take a step back, give up and turn back to the lie of “comfortable” and private isolation.

This is where the last part of the message to the soccer team gets traction. That knowing how to do something makes doing it infinitely more fruitful. And when it comes to doing community with other believers, God goes to great length to tell us how. There are close to 60 instances in the New Testament that tell us how to engage with one-another…hence the term “one another’s” of scripture. I Thessalonians 5:14 says, “we urge you brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the week, be patient with them all”. James (5:16) tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”. Galatians 6:2 instructs us to “carry one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ”. The Book of Proverbs leans in with wisdom as well, telling us in chapter 27 that “Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another”. We’re also shown that “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (27:6). Proverbs 17:17 says, “a friend loves at all times, and a (Christian) brother is born for a time of adversity”.

One of my favorite things about coaching is when the players, despite all of their objections and distractions, decide to trust me and eventually reap the benefits of the hard work of practice. At some point, we have to do the same with God. We have to trust him. We have to trust that doing community the way he commands is going to be worth overcoming the objections and distractions and putting in the hard work. And oh how worth it is!

My favorite part of being part of our body in the role of a staff member is getting a front row seat to seeing God use the hard work of surrender and trust in Him within the context of community turn to fruitful life change. I’ve had the privilege in recent months to see the obedience of men loving men in the form of “iron sharpening iron” lead to confessions of sins. Sins that have crippled marriages and relationships for decades. Sins that would typically be deemed “too private”. Sins that were otherwise going to stay powerful in the darkness behind closed doors, instead, dragged into the light. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sins will not prosper, but the one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy”. The hard conversations and confessions in this community group happened only by trusting that doing community the way God commands us is actually the best way to do it. Trusting that authenticity and confession actually lead to healing and mercy, as He promises. I pray the five new community groups that have kicked off in the last couple months, as well as all existing groups will buy-in, trust that our God loves us more than we do, knows us better than we know ourselves, and wants to use His Holy Spirit, His word, and His church (you!) to conform us to the image of His son Jesus. Let’s go, church!

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