Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Friday, February 3 - The Real Heart Of A Coach

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” — Romans 12:10 (ESV)

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At the start of 2023, the world was captivated by a shocking developing story surrounding the first “Monday Night Football” game of the new year: After what seemed like a routine play, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suddenly collapsed on the field, motionless. It was quickly apparent this was no routine injury but a very serious situation where a young life was at stake. Both teams’ medical staffs sprang into action. Fans, players and coaches held their breath and prayed. Minutes later, as the ambulance left the stadium, nobody knew whether Hamlin would survive whatever health crisis had just occurred.

In the critical hours and days that followed, prayers went up from around the world for miraculous healing. People everywhere waited and hoped for good news. Incredibly, the healing power of God was put on display, and Hamlin made a dramatic recovery. As the helping hands of the doctors, nurses and medical staff on the field were praised and the power of prayer was recognized, a greater story stood out to me.

I saw how the coaches of both teams handled the situation that night. In the face of an extremely traumatic experience for everyone present, both put the needs of their guys ahead of any protocol or agenda. Footage showed Bills coach Sean McDermott sitting on the bench with his players, hugging them, crying with them and being every bit a fatherly figure — a true example of the Good Father and His care for us. McDermott’s awareness to inform Bengals coach Zac Taylor that he felt he was personally unfit to continue coaching that game, as well as his decision to remove the team from the field and let the players decide for themselves whether they could go back out and play, showed a level of compassion not always seen in sports today.

For many coaches and leaders out there, competitiveness is what drives them to lead their teams to success. But sadly, some take this so far that they are willing to sacrifice the wellbeing of their players in order to achieve a certain agenda. In contrast, however, the Kingdom way of Jesus is one that puts great emphasis on people before projects. The dignity, value and due respect of individuals as created beings is always paramount to whatever personal objective may be on the table. Nothing is so important that it’s worth sacrificing the quality of life or confidence of someone else. Good leadership always puts others before oneself. Philippians 2:3 urges believers to regard one another with humility, putting the needs of others before oneself rather than doing things out of selfish ambition. Romans 12:10 (ESV) even says to “outdo one another” in showing honor and love toward each other.

If you’re a coach or leader on some level in sports, or even a leader in business or in life, always make sure the way you treat and take care of people comes before anything else. Because the better you care for them, the more they’ll buy into your vision and get behind you as a leader. At the end of the day, we’re all human and we deserve to be treated as such.

— Katherine Singer

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