I think I’m willing to call John 15 my favorite chapter of the Bible. There’s a lot to choose from and a lot of greatness in that big book, but I think this is my favorite chapter. Quick summary - stay connected to the Vine (Christ), and the world’s not going to like you when you do. Powerful. Right in the middle of the chapter is an important bit of wisdom to grab for coaches. In John 15:14-15, Christ says:
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
I don’t know a foreign language so I am unable to dive into the etymology of the words used in the original Hebrew or Greek, but someone translated the word “friend” into this passage. Have you ever heard a coach say, “They don’t pay me to be friends with the players” or had a coach draw a clear boundary between coach and player? I have, and while I understand the sentiment, maybe this is wrong thinking. Should we keep our players at a distance when Christ did not keep his disciples at arm’s length (remembering also that the disciples may have been closer to teenage years than their 30s as Christ was)? He says clearly that we are Christ’s friend when we do as He commands us. Maybe our relationships with our players, specifically those who do as we ask, should resemble a closer friendship.
I’m sure that my experience has been shaped by the friendship I have with my high school baseball coach, Bill Percy. That relationship grew over time, and I was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Coach Percy was always there for me and our relationship deepened as I followed closer to his advice in the game.
I wonder if this is how Christ would coach based on John 15:14-15. He’d keep nothing a secret, and create no barriers between his players and success. As the players followed his instruction deeper and deeper, he’d tell them more and more. He’d explain all he knows about the Lord, God the Father, and then all he knew about the game.
Imagine how players would respond to that kind of coaching. They would know their boundaries and be accountable (we’re friends if you do what I command you), and they would understand everything happening to them (I have made all that I have heard known to you). Again, I don’t know for sure, but I think this is how Jesus would coach.
P.S. - After writing this, I received an alert on the TED app on my iPad. It guided me to a talk from Rita Pierson called "Every kid needs a champion." While I don't agree with everything in the talk, listen to the feedback she gave a teacher who didn't believe relationships mattered. It spoke truth.