There are two questions that I have been struggling with since I started coaching with the goal of sharing Christ with my athletes. 1) Can I still show Christ by placing emphasis on winning? 2) If so, how much emphasis should be placed on winning?
I don’t really have much of an answer to this, only some ideas. This is kind of a big struggle for me, considering my job from God is to preach the gospel in this context, and my job from my boss is to win. How do I do “all things to the glory of God” in a way that honors both my Boss and my boss? The good thing is that my boss is a follower of Christ and trusts me to do both well. It is my place to figure out how to do that. So here is what I have come up with as far as answering the questions above.
1. Can I still show Christ by placing emphasis on winning?
I think the answer is yes. Here’s why. The Christian life is all about victory. Victory over sin, victory over death, and a final victory over the evil one and restoration to what life was supposed to be in the beginning. In life as Christians we celebrate victory and victories everyday.
Victory & Victories
Every morning and throughout the day I am uncontrollably reminded of the Victory in Christ. How I was once dead and held captive by my desires, and now I am free from evil desires and able to live a full and abundant life in Christ; one that I had been seeking in vain to find in temporal things all along and now have fully in Him. Based on that truth I see victories daily in seemingly small things. Answered prayers; overcoming desires of my flesh; loving more; and being free to have joy in times of despair are all examples of daily victories over circumstances, temptations, distentions, and emotional dissatisfaction.
Likewise, in the sport of competitive cheerleading we celebrate daily victories. We watch as they fail time and time again to get that skill or hit that stunt. They constantly drop stunts getting both physically and mentally beat up. We celebrate the victories over one element of the sequence, or finally getting that skill or hitting that stunt.
When it comes to showing Christ and placing emphasis on winning as a coach I think that is has to be the right emphasis. When we as coaches place the emphasis on winning the competition and having a “must win” attitude we tend to focus more on the failures and put out a negative vibe rather than an uplifting, encouraging one. I believe that if the emphasis is pointing out the daily victories and create an atmosphere where the athletes see the pattern of winning the pattern will continue onto the competition floor. This constant view point will create confidence and show that they can overcome these daily challenges in preparation for the larger battle. This is a great picture of life in Christ and I believe will create a great bridge to the understanding of what an amazing victory in Christ we have and allow them to have confidence in Him through their daily lives.
2. How much emphasis should be placed on winning?
When emphasis is placed on the daily victories over daily challenges I think that we should place much emphasis on winning with a healthy balance of recognizing defeat.
Victory Over Defeat
Without seeing the challenge or defeat, there can be no victory. If we don’t see the shortcoming then we can’t know that we have had victory over something. I can’t see the value of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if I cannot see my need. Why would I receive something if I can’t see a need for it? It wasn’t until I recognized that there is not one person on the planet that is innocent. When I recognize my moral failure and the standards by which that is measured I realize that I am already defeated. When I notice that my life had been spent trying to overcome this feeling of defeat in my life and seeing nothing but more failure in this I look to the One who has already claimed victory over these things. I see that my only hope is in Christ and when I submit fully to Him and trust only in His grace I see how great a victory there is in Him.
I have noticed that a lot of times my athletes sit in despair over the constant struggle over the skill that they are trying to get because they are not able to see the victory. They lose hope. If I show them that there is a victory in the process then they are able to see progression and renew their hope that the day will come when they will see their victory over the skill. This motivates them to press on towards the goal. Placing emphasis on the small victories allows them to see the greater victories in a whole new light. Sometimes they need to see that they are in fact not executing a skill correctly, even if they think they are. This can be tough for them, but when you show them where they are progressing in it, they can begin to see their improvement and ignite in them a motivation to keep going and keep fighting.
This is the value of defeat. They see the defeat and then the emphasis is placed on the victories and grants hope to the future when they will finally fully overcome their battle.
After so many years of contemplating where the emphasis on winning fits into my calling as a Christian coach, this is where I find myself as of today. Placing emphasis on winning is good, as long as it is the right emphasis on the right victory, and that emphasis needs to be great in light of seeing the constant challenges. Now to find ways to put this into practice. Pray with me as I try to point them to victory which points them to Victory in Christ.