I never envisioned sitting in Haiti, working through a Beth Moore Bible study on gentleness, and it reminding me of sports and coaching. However, this one did. Teachability is crucial for gentleness. James 1:22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says.” Athletes do this all the time. Often as an athlete we can get caught up in giving an ear to the coach but then going on the court or field and doing what we want. We can hear the coach but don’t do what is asked of us. Christians are not just people that say they believe in God or go to church. A true believer confesses their sins, hears the Lord’s word, and tries their best to do what it says. We will fail along the way but there is redemption. We will lose games along the way but have a much better chance of winning when we are all on the same page and that’s the coach’s page.
Our willingness to be teachable relies heavily on our teachers or coaches. When there is a level of respect for that person we accept their ways but if we don’t respect them we do not heed to their instructions. I have been fortunate enough to have several great coaches in my life. Coaches on athletic teams and life coaches/teachers have been instrumental in making me who I am. My Christian faith strengthens when I respect and fear the Lord. Without those, we cannot implement the teachings and instructions.
In this study, we read the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22. To recap, Balaam basically wanted to do his own thing. God finally tells him to go ahead do what you think is best. I remember when coaches would throw up their hands and sit down on the bench, they were clearly saying, you are going to do it your way, no matter what I say, so see how that works out for you. More often than not, the lead we had would shrink or the deficit we had would grow. At which point, a timeout would be called; we would circle up around the coach and then try to get back on the same page. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Balaam had to be instructed on three different occasions. Three times he went his own direction and something was placed in front of the donkey to stop him. Three times he beat the donkey when it stopped and then God opened the mouth of the donkey to speak to Balaam.
God opposed Balaam because his path was a reckless one. God had grievances with Balaam because he loved to do his own thing. The Bible tells us that if Balaam would have continued his way that Balaam would have been killed. As an athlete, when one chooses to do their own thing, they kill the team. Balaam admitted his wrong doing and God allowed him to continue on his journey but he could only speak the words God gave him. Coaches, teachers, bosses do this all the time. They continue to give us playing time as long as we realize our ways are not their ways and we do as they instruct. God does that with each of us too. There is forgiveness if we admit out wrong doings and decide to walk in his way and not our own.
God’s ways often seem difficult or harsh but then we have to realize that Christ was the hand-picked king. Coach’s way may not always seem like the right way, but he/she has been chosen to lead and instruct. Proverbs 13:13 says “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects command is rewarded.”