"I Am the Coach!"

Our daughter, Melissa, graduated from SIU-E in 2004 with a degree in Kinesiology. She could have taken that preparation into several related careers: coaching, professional trainer, sports therapy, nutrition/ health education, or other related professions. Melissa chose to focus on being an elementary physical education teacher. Today, she finds it very fulfilling to build “fitness with fun” value into her students. This is her seventeenth year of teaching!

Our Coach!

Recently, Melissa has taken on the responsibility of coaching her fifth-grade son’s youth league basketball team She would prefer to sit on the sidelines and enjoy the games, but the team could not enlist a volunteer coach and was at the point of canceling the season due to a staffing shortage. So, Melissa reluctantly stepped up. I think her especially athletic son, Karter, had put considerable effort into persuading his mother to step into the vacancy! Even Melissa had to admit, “I think I am probably the most qualified to do this!”

Back in the day, Melissa and her twin sister, Michelle, played volleyball, basketball and softball and lettered in all three sports during their middle and high school years at their small county school. Melissa was the most skilled and enthusiastic of the two about sports. As a result, she chose Kinesiology as her major in college.

When Melissa graduated, she taught that first year here in Illinois before getting married and moving to New Mexico. She was interviewed by several schools before being hired by a nearby high school in our county known for its competitive sports program. Her assignment was to cover a complement of P.E. classes as well as taking on the head coaching responsibilities of the freshman girls’ basketball team. At five feet two inches in height, Melissa was dwarfed by most of her student athletes! On more than one occasion, she was mistaken for one of them!

Her mother, Monique, who served as one of the score keepers for the team, loves to retell an episode that occurred during one of the first games of that rookie season. Melissa stood up to approach an official with a question regarding a call. He abruptly said to her, “You need to go back to your bench and sit down! Where’s your coach anyway?” A surprised and indignant Melissa blurted out, “I am the coach!” 😒

Have you ever taken on a church leadership responsibility and questioned yourself, “What have I gotten myself into? Am I qualified to do this?” I often say to those who serve in the local church, "God equips those He calls into service." He will never ask you to do something that He has not already resourced you by the Holy Spirit to accomplish it! This should build confidence in each of us. This confidence is not in our self-effort, but in the equipping work of God’s grace.

Paul spoke about spiritual gifts in at least three major passages: 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4. Peter mentioned gifts in 1 Peter 4. It is clear from these scriptural accounts that each person is given at least one spiritual gift and it is likely that many have a gift-mix of two or three more. (I believe that God has equipped and graced me with abilities in teaching, administration, and encouragement or exhortation.)

In summarizing how the church or body of Christ functions, Paul offers a representative list of gifts with this explanation, “God has given each one of us a special gift (literally grace) through the generosity of Christ.” (Eph. 4:7, NLT). “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all…. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” (1 Cor. 12:4,11). “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” (Ro. 12:6).

Peter also reminds us of the Spirit’s equipping and enablement: “God has given each of you a gift… Use them well to serve one another! Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak… Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it will all the strength and energy God supplies.” (1 Pet. 4:10-11). The Spirit decides and supplies! Our response is to obey and serve God well through the gift or gifts He bestows.

You may need to consult a church leader, mentor, or spiritual coach to learn more about your spiritual gifts. I encourage you to do so. If you are a mentoring leader, connect with others who may desire to serve. When these next generation leaders ask, “How may I serve and am I qualified?” Let’s help them to see that when God calls us to serve, He always qualifies us for that service!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

Check out these links... Spiritual Gifts and Mentoring

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