Commands versus Suggestions

Matthew 22:  37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

I’ve heard many coaches talk about “coachable athletes”.  “Jane, oh she’s great.  She’s such a coachable kid”.  “Steve.  Oh I love coaching him.  He’s the most coachable kid I’ve ever seen.”  But what does that mean?  What does it mean to be “coachable”?  I believe there are many attributes of a coachable athlete including humility, a desire to learn, a decision to listen more than talk, a willingness to push themselves, just to name a few.  But I want to concentrate on just one aspect of what I believe makes up a coachable kid; I believe they understand the difference between a command and a suggestion.

There are plenty of abusive coaches who mistreat athletes, and I want to make it clear that this has no place in athletics; an athlete (and their guardians) should never put up with any such abuse.  Having said that, a fact in coaching is that a coach can’t spend all day saying “please” or “could you kindly…”.  Practices in particular are full of commands.  “One more set and pick up the pace”.    “Cindy, get your butt moving and catch up to the pack”.  “We’re doing one more rep, and this time at 90% Ben, not 80%”.

I’ve watched athletes question almost everything that came out of the coach’s mouth.  “But why are we doing another set coach?”   “Do we have to do this one faster?”  “Can I do 6 reps instead of 7 coach?”  “Why are we playing 4,4,2 instead of 4,3,3 coach?”  Nothing wears out a coach more than incessant questioning of directions; or even worse, athletes just not doing what has been asked of them.

In contrast, I’ve had the pleasure of coaching kids who just did what I asked of them.  They may ask for clarification, but the questioning was never second guessing.  Such athletes are “coachable” because they never took the instruction as a suggestion, but rather a command.  They understood that the coach ultimately had their best interests in mind.

I believe we as Christians often act like uncoachable athletes.  We fail to recognize that the Bible is full of commandments and very few suggestions.  Putting the 10 commandments aside, take a look at the New Testament and Jesus’ teachings and you will see commands.  Just to name a few of Jesus’ tougher commands: Love your enemies and pray for them (Matth 5:44); if you know someone has something against you, go and be reconciled (Matth 5:23-24); honour your parents (Matth 15:4); pay your taxes, don’t cheat the government (Matth 22:19-21); host the poor who can’t repay you (Luke 14:12-14).

When you read your Bible, recognize that it is filled with commands for His faithful servants and unlike human coaches, the ultimate coach – God – will never let you down.  Be a coachable Christian!


  1. Doug says:

    That’s a great parallel you have drawn here Roland. Thanks, it helps me better understand the perspective of the bible’s “commands”

    1. Roland Mechler says:

      Thanks Doug. That still leaves some pretty tough commands though doesn’t it. Lord, may I have more of you so that I can live out those commands.

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