A term many people are familiar in the month of March is "March Madness." Unless one is a follower of basketball, this might seem more like a sequel of a horror movie.
March Madness has to do with the top basketball teams and national college playoffs and standings. March Madness marks the month when the best of the best college basketball teams in the nation play their best and hardest for top national ranking.
How does a basketball team end up one of the best in the nation? What separates the good teams from the best teams? Is it the quality of players on a team or is it the coach?
Good players certainly help a team reach the top of the standings, but how do you get five good players to play well together?
It takes a good, experienced coach and coaching staff to help good players execute top-quality precision basketball play on both defense and offense.
What does a basketball team have to do with religion?
Just as you can't have a good basketball team without a good coach and good players, so it is with religion.
A religious leader is like a coach. A religious leader can only be a leader if he or she has good sound teaching and people to teach or coach. Coaching is basically teaching. Christians look to the teachings, or coaching of Jesus Christ in the Gospels to encourage and lead them through everyday situations.
We know from recorded history and from Jesus' own teachings that his leadership put his disciples and him at the top of the standings in his day.
Jesus' ability to coach his disciples and lead them out into the world to teach people of all walks of life to be winners still continues today.
Jesus' strongest attributes for his team were compassion for people and a vision for their future on which he could help them stay focused. Once Jesus' disciples trusted him and began to believe in his teachings, they began to really see who he was.
He was someone who had the wisdom and understanding of life they could learn from. As they got to know Jesus better, they could see that he had the wisdom and insight to teach them what they wanted to know about eternal life.
They were coachable players on Jesus' team.
All of the top U.S. teams in college basketball have coaches with strong attributes who encourage their players to be the best they can be no matter what the circumstances facing them at the time.
Long before a team gets anywhere near the top, they learn from the coach's method of training and his or her confidence in the players' ability to be a winning team.
Early on, the basketball team is groomed by the coach through discipline and repetitive practice. They learn the coach's play book and finally, shoot, shoot, shoot the basketball.
The team gains experience and guidance from the methods used by the coach to put them much further ahead in level of skills and ability to play as a successful team than where they were beforehand.
Finally, the team is like a well-tuned engine, each player doing his or her specific part to enhance the ability of the team to do its very best.
You could say the same is true of the Christian church today.
As people adapt the teachings of Christ to their lives every day, they learn to trust in the coach, Christ himself, with their lives.
With good direction from church leaders who are servants to the people as Christ is, and the power of the Holy Spirit living in each individual Christian, nothing is impossible for Christ when it comes to accomplishing his will in the Christian church.
It still takes discipline and repetitive practice by every individual Christian to reach the level of experience needed to live successful lives, but you can always feel confident in knowing that you are never alone.
The Lord Jesus is always with you no matter what you are going through, no matter what the circumstances may seem at the time.
St. Paul points out in Romans that, "Nothing can ever separate us from the love of Jesus Christ."
This is the comfort we all need to know. Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us no matter what we may be going through in our lives right now.
As March Madness comes and goes and the best basketball team is determined, let us as Christians reflect on how important it is to be coachable in our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
With the potential we have when we are coached through life by the "Coach of Coaches," nothing will be impossible for us, even top ranking in the league of life.
Mark Conway is a Christian evangelist living in Seward. He can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (907) 224-4818 home, or (907) 224-6111 work.
His mailing address is: P. O. Box 1355, Seward, AK 99664.
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