Coaching for Success

Jesus said, “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 18: 14

This scripture I relate to when I was coaching soccer teams centred on having a game plan that utilised every players skills and talents so my team could achieve at the optimal level. Furthermore, like Jesus with his discipleship of missionaries, the team I assembled was comprised of varying abilities and backgrounds which meant for both Jesus and me crafting a role for everyone that will produce the best outcome to achieve our goals.  Additionally, the disciples were vehement about Jesus’ mission as my team were passionate about the game. The question is how did the disciples and my team maintain their commitment to the game plan?

Firstly, I believe a great game plan allows everyone to play a role in carrying out Jesus’ ministry?   Jesus aimed to instil a belief in the disciples that they could contribute to Jesus’ mission. Sure, it was hard to continually uphold what Jesus was asking them to do through his teachings has it may have challenged their own set of values and beliefs however, they could see that what Jesus was imploring all people to do would create a more compassionate and just society. This was evident through his own personal witness, his empathy for the marginalised and his healing of the afflicted. Therefore, the teachings and miracles inspired the disciples to say I want to make a difference in the world. While for me, has coach it is finding the best fit for each player in my team. Furthermore, imparting them with the skills and opportunities to showcase their ability and how they will provide value to the team.  If I can achieve that I am setting up my players to be team orientated which will give my team the utmost opportunity to achieve success.  Thus, Jesus and myself through our different styles of learning want people to have a mindset that seizes the prospect to change the status quo with a focus on team rather than self.

Secondly, the game plan needs everyone engaged in the process. Jesus through his teachings and miracles provided the template for the mission the disciples had to continue after Jesus’ death. However, there were times when his apostles were challenged by the responsibility of discipleship. For example, Peter’s denial of Jesus three times. Matthew 26:69-75 In this case Peter’s faith was tested under the fear of suffering the same fate of Jesus so self-preservation prevailed. Nevertheless, later Peter was able to pledge his love for Jesus three times as he was commissioned to take leadership of his mission. I believe this demonstrated Jesus’s willingness to forgive and allowed Peter to understand and take ownership of his failings which empowered him to be a great leader of the Christian faith. Similarly, as a Coach it is trusting that each player, I send to deliver my game plan will sacrifice their own game for team success. Sometimes, players can put their own selfish interests above the team’s goals. For example, it might be that they are not happy with the position they have been selected in or when they could pass the ball they choose to shoot instead. It is important to realise that every player reflects both on their achievements as well as their mistakes and for those players they become better players in the future. Additionally, for Jesus and myself it is about not only having disciples and players but producing leaders who don’t seek personal glory.

Finally, when devising a game plan there needs to be expectations. For example, when Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to every town, he requested them to go without purse, bag or sandals. Luke: 10-1-12 Hence, he was trusting them to fulfil the game plan and overcome the obstacles placed in their way. The fact that they returned home with joy, Luke 10-17, acknowledges they relished their assignment and demonstrated their agency in continuing Jesus’ mission.Conversely, as a coach I have thought as long as they play their role, showcase their skills and take a few risks without fear of making a mistake they will be able to have fun. Consequently, I believe with the proper sustainable structure in place it creates an atmosphere where both the disciples in pairs and players in the team will feel they were supported in their endeavours no matter the end result. At the end of the day a humble person and humble teams accomplishments are a powerful witness of Jesus’s life and my coaching prowess, acknowledging the many gifts the disciples and my team’s players had been  given  by God in their lives.

 

When Faced with a Dilemma

In John 5:30 – “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” What I gain from this scripture verse when I read it is that all decisions that I make should not be influenced by what is best for me but for both parties. The question is what guides me in my decision-making process? The bottom line being does it please the one who sent me.

The first point in my decision-making process is not to be emotional. For example, in Jesus’ first miracle changing the water into wine, Jesus was reluctant to perform the task requested my Mary, his mother when she anticipated that the wedding banquet was running out of wine for the guests. However, Jesus put aside his own unwillingness by providing 10 more barrels of wine for the reception. Therefore, this example, reminds me of always trying to focus on what I believe to be is the right thing to do in any situation. If I allow my feelings to get in the way then it would cloud my judgement and impede my ability to reach a successful outcome for all.

The second point is reserve judgement as relationships are always are evolving. For example, “Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem”, John 12: 12-19 suddenly becomes “The Crucifixion of Jesus”, John 19:17-30”, in the matter of a week. I still find it hard to comprehend how Jesus can go from being lauded has a King to being tried and convicted as a criminal in a week. When I reflect on these two events, I compare to the interaction of the continual relationships I have daily in my own life.  The key I believe is the way people react to an event. In Jesus’ case the significant verses that underlined Jesus ’anointing as King were that crowd had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead and told other people of his miracle powers hence the glorification. John,19:17-19. Thus, was Jesus’ deification based on him continuing to go throughout life performing miracles or the values that he espoused through his teachings? Like the crowd’s reaction to Jesus as he was entering Jerusalem how many times are our relationships formed by how people interact with us that lays the foundation for an ongoing relationship? Do I just reflect on how many times my relationship with other people is formulated by how people are acting towards me in the present? However, I should think about how people have acted towards me previously and will in the future.

The third point is often a hasty  judgement  can lead to dire consequences  such as Jesus being sentenced to death? Is it because the people who feted him as he entered Jerusalem thought he was the solution to all their problems and when he didn’t provide them with the outcomes, they wanted they became frustrated and angry? Perhaps I need to question if that is my first reaction when people’s words and actions aren’t what I hoped for? I believe it is important to refrain from a snap judgement and arrive at a conclusion before you are across all the facts. Sometimes such a supposition can make me look foolish and regret my part in what has occurred. For example, like Pilate when he washed his hands after sentencing Jesus to death failed to realise his part in Christian history for his adjudication. Matthew 27-24. How often to I fail to realise the impact on others because of my words and actions in the heat of the moment.

The final point is that you have to trust your judgement. This is illustrated, when Pilate asks Jesus, “What have you done? “Jesus replies, “My kingdom is not from this world if it was my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” John, 18:35-37. Jesus’ judgement was that his focus was carrying out his Father’s will for the greater good and to act beyond self. I believe that when I experience challenges, I need to have the faith that my response, firstly, is for a positive outcome for others and maybe not in three days as it was for Jesus through his resurrection but eventually there is a learning experience for me. So, ultimately, when I am faced with a dilemma, I need to realise that not everything is irretrievable but sometimes there are road blocks along the way that prevent a quick solution. More importantly, that on the journey is that I understand that my words and actions have hopefully resulted in assisting others in their lives.

 

For God all things are Possible.

In Mark 10:27, Jesus states, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God, for God all things are possible.” So how does God make things possible?
I often think when I am in a challenging situation where seemingly is not a quick fix I pray even more earnestly to God for a possible solution. However, I find that solution is more of a process.

Step one of the process is that I know that the final solution will not be the result that I originally sought. After all I seek to do God’s will not mine. So, bearing that in mind, I need to come to a satisfactory outcome that requires a change in how I approach the issue. Therefore, I need to analyse all the factors that are contributing to the problem and just not from my point of view.

Step two, God is asking me to take into account how the other parties are reacting to the dispute and are they interested in changing their position in dealing with the matter. Furthermore, I must differentiate my perceptions from their actual words and actions.

Step three, I think sometimes God provides a solution where things just take care of themselves. This means if I continue to pray for answers, act in a conciliatory manner towards other parties and allow the issues to take their natural course things do improve. Why? because as a mere mortal I don’t focus on the issue negatively but instead look at the possibilities with the view that God makes all things possible.

Demand for a Sign

In Monday’s Gospel this week, “some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” Matthew 12:38. Why did they want a sign? I would argue whatever sign Jesus chose to display would that have been sufficient to acknowledge that he was God’s son?

 Secondly, why did Jesus need to yield to their demands?  It would seem to me the Pharisees and teachers of the law were treating Jesus like a magician wanting him to deliver a bag of tricks. However, that was not Jesus’ purpose to make people believe because of the miracles he performed but through the proclamation of the Gospel message that encourages everyone to be selfless in their words and actions.

Finally, why should you have to second guess yourself. I believe when try to please others you start to compromise yourself and fail to fulfil what you have set out to achieve. I am inspired by Jesus that he refused to entertain the Pharisees and teachers of the law and focussed on achieving his end goal. That was extolling the Good News and dying and rising again so that have everyone has the opportunity for eternal life. Jesus’ selfless act and commitment to his mission has changed many lives since, including mine.

Sticking to the Game Plan

In John 2:1-11, The Wedding at Cana, Mary tells Jesus they have no wine left at the Wedding. Jesus replies, “What concern is that to me my hour has not come yet?” However, Mary ignores the comment and instructs the servants to, “Do whatever he tells you.” So, Jesus asks them to fill six stone jars with water and through the power of the Holy Spirit it turns into the best tasting wine at the Wedding.

 For me Jesus’s unwillingness to change the water into wine is like the young sportsperson doubting their belief to successfully achieve their full potential. Mary according to the scripture just told the servants to do what Jesus told them. There was no time for contemplating the situation. Similarly, the coach of the young sportsperson asks them to perform to the best of their ability that enables the team to win. The bottom line was that both Mary and the Coach had the belief that Jesus and the young sportsperson would be successful.

 Secondly, what is going through the mind of Jesus’ and the young sportsperson has they are presenting for the first time under the public eye? Maybe, like Jesus the player is reluctant to take on the task the coach has asked for, however when the realisation kicks in that it is best for the team, they both attempt to fulfil their assignments to the best of their ability. When they have successfully achieved what they have been asked to do they experience elation about contributing to the team and the end result.

 Finally, Jesus and the young person by carrying out what they have been asked to do show they are team players who will do what is best for others rather than thinking of themselves. So, now people have witnessed Jesus’ first miracle and the young sportsperson’s first game now how do they deal with the scrutiny to go on to achieve their ultimate goals? That is Jesus doing God’s will and the young sportsperson having a successful career. Additionally, I would argue that would be always putting others before themselves and empowering them to utilise their talents to serve in a similar capacity. That is what I would call sticking to the game plan.

 

Preparing for Christmas

In Luke 3:3 John the Baptist proclaims what I believe to be an important Christmas message that of hope and forgiveness. As family members celebrate with one another all over the world whatever differences they may have they need to be put aside so everyone can celebrate this great day. So, what must be done to prepare?

John goes on to say “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Luke, 3:4. I would consider when facing an encounter of needing to interact with people who challenge you the last thing that should occupy my mind is another possible conflict. I think if I go on with the mindset there are going to be issues then I miss out on the opportunity to positively engage not only in the celebration but with the people who make the occasion enjoyable. Thus, the first part of my Christmas preparation is having an affirmative mindset.

“And the crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth.” Luke 3:5 Therefore, what do I bring to the table when I arrive at the celebration? It is not only the delicious food and worthwhile presents I bring that enhance the atmosphere but also the welcome greeting, listening and engaging in the conversation and the final goodbye. Hence, make each person feel like they are part of the celebration.

“And all people will see God’s salvation.” Luke 3:6. That Jesus’ birth is celebrated by people all over the world and is underpinned by a message of hope and forgiveness. So, I reflect on those words when I celebrate Christmas with my family. Thus, realising Christmas is more than just the food and presents it is the meaning that we should aspire today everyday of our lives.

A Leap of Faith leads to fulfilling a Need

In Luke, 18:35-43 we have the story of the Blind Beggar who despite being asked by the crowd to be quiet persists in calling out to Jesus to ask for mercy.

“Son of David have mercy on me.” Luke, 18:39.

The inspiration I gain from the narrative of “Jesus heals a Blind Beggar near Jericho” is not only the courage and persistence of the blind beggar to ask for a healing but also Jesus despite his busyness displayed a willingness to help.

So, how does the blind beggar motivate me in my life? Well he seizes the opportunity. I wonder how many times in my life have I regretted not taking the opportunities I have been offered. When I think back, I hid behind the excuses of it wasn’t for me, not the right time or just I am happy at the moment. God is asking us to be courageous people not risk aversive.

Such a person was Jesus. Now Jesus could have ignored the voice and went on his way but instead he wanted to know who was crying out to him. Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” To which the blind beggar asks, “Lord let me see you again.” Luke, 18:42. Immediately, Jesus responds, “Receive your sight your faith has saved you.” Luke, 18:43. Therefore, Jesus saw a need and acted upon it because he had the capacity to help. Thus, Jesus challenges me not to walk past situations but to lend assistance wherever possible.

Ultimately, I continue Christ’s mission giving of my time and energy to assist others in their lives. Furthermore, to act when offered the chance  and to give guidance to others when I can. Maybe in those situations I am actually stirring the faith of others and bringing them closer to God.

Giving All

In Mark 12:41-44 Jesus tells the story of a poor widow that puts all the money she has to live on into the Church treasury. When I read this story, I continually reflect on why did the poor widow contribute so selflessly?

My reflection begins with trying to define the character traits of the widow through her generous act. Firstly, I believe her kind act demonstrates humility. A modesty that exhibits that by giving all her money she is focussed on contributing to Jesus’ mission and doing God’s will. Hence, the widow’s action causes me to reflect on how often I fail to let go of what is important which compromises my desire to act selflessly.

Secondly, the widow trusts in the process because of utmost belief that God will provide. Her faith is so unswerving that she does not question God’s providence. How often do I allow doubts to creep into my mind when circumstances force me into positions that take me out of my comfort zone? Sometimes when faced with such dilemmas I react instinctively instead of taking a step back and seeking God’s assistance.

Finally, I believe we can all learn from the widow’s strong faith. Her generosity of heart gives her a freedom and happiness that allows her to put in the two copper coins without hesitation not thinking about the hardship that they may cause to her quality of life. For me it is the constant struggle of finding a balance between the material and the spiritual needs in my life. However, I am continually inspired by the poor widow to give all I have to support others through my words and actions. Furthermore, she models a faith that trusts in God in all situations without wavering a character strength that I must continue to develop daily.

Walking on Water

When we encourage others when encountering challenging situations to Trust in the Lord what are really saying? In Matthew 14:22-34 we read about the story of Jesus walking on water and Peter trying to emulate him. Unfortunately, Peter’s attempt to walk on water fails. I believe the key to Peter failing encompasses the meaning of placing our trust in the Lord.

I would argue that the circumstances that led up to Peter trying to walk on water planted the self-doubt in his mind. Jesus asked the disciples to go ahead of him in the boat while he dismissed the crowd. Jesus, then was unable to make it back to the boat and the disciples did not see him again until he was walking on the lake. At first, they thought they saw a ghost, but Jesus reassured them saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew:14-27) Peter responded taking a leap of faith by getting out of the boat and walking towards Jesus however, when the wind blew a gale he became afraid and started to sink. I would consider that when any semblance of trepidation enters our mind it prevents us from completely carrying out our objectives to our full capabilities. Hence, we are selling ourselves short and not backing ourselves in to achieve our goals the way that we would like to have initially.

Furthermore, I believe Trust in the Lord reveals itself in our relationship with other people. To accomplish what we need to do in our everyday lives we must rely on others to help and guide us along the way.I would deem that when we put ourselves in a situation we have no control over if uncertainty creeps in we lose focus and become compromised which usually ends up with us being unsuccessful. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew:14-30) In my life however with my family, good friends and work colleagues there is always someone willing to help. “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew:14-31) Likewise, we can pray to God to overcome the challenges we face and trust that he can assist us through these times.

Moreover, by trusting in our own abilities and support from our family, friends and work colleagues I would argue that this manifest itself in us Trusting in the Lord. Additionally, the Lord has utilised our knowledge and skills and those of our family, friends and work colleagues to bring glory to his kingdom.

Modern Day Saints

Sometimes you meet people in life and you think to yourself they are Modern-Day Saints. The impression they make on your life is profound because what they do doesn’t require thanks; rather they gain appreciation of how they have helped in some way. One person who met that selflessness in my life that I had the privilege to know was my work colleague, Raelene.

So, what makes a Modern-Day Saint? I believe it is a person who sees a need and assists without being asked. Raelene if she saw a need she would go out of her way to assist you.

For me it was washing the church corporal, a white small tablecloth & the sanctifier, small finger towels when they receive wine stains after masses. I never asked her to do it, she just offered; such was the extent of her kindness.

Furthermore, a Modern-Day Saint extends aid beyond work needs without looking to be affirmed. When I told Raelene about my son, Simon and how he ripped so many of his clothes she gave me some of her two sons’ clothes. Such generosity wasn’t done as a grand gesture but a recognition that her assistance would bring joy to others. In this case, my son, Simon and my family has allowed us to spend money for Simon on his other requirements and improve his quality of life.

Moreover, a Modern-Day Saint would make you feel genuinely comfortable in their presence. Every time I saw her, she would always enquire how my family and I were going. She made you feel important when engaging in conversation with you and her laughter would fill a room. Additionally, she would strongly share her ideas and opinions with you but it was always positive and the emphasis placed on the best possible outcome for all.

In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “Forwhere your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”When I think about Raelene I reflect that her treasure was helping others to achieve the best possible outcomes and she gave that assistance with all her heart every day of her wonderful life.