In my younger days I was passionate about 2 sports: baseball and karate. Both of which I was naturally capable of doing. Even though I didn’t play ball as long as I took karate, I am a true baseball fan to this day. Karate, well, let’s just say I was done with that 35 years ago…until now. I thought I would never consider taking karate again, especially since I would have to start over as a white belt. After having developed a friendship with a karate instructor who tried to persuade me to take his “executive class” (nice term for “the old guys’ class”), and the encouragement of my wife to get in better shape, I decided to dive in, white belt and all.
The main question I have had to answer is simply, “Am I coachable enough to allow this new sensei to change my stance?”
Since taking lessons this past fall I have come to realize that the style I took long ago is a little different than what I am taking now. So I am having to change some of the way I have done karate in the past. My sensei has tweaked several things… like how I kick and punch, and changing my fighting stance. Naturally my tendency is to do things the way I have done them before simply because that is how I learned them. But taking a different style requires doing some things a different way. Starting over as a white belt and having to re-learn things has been awkward to say the least. The only way I am going to be successful in this new mid – life endeavor (and lose the white belt) is if I am, and stay, coachable. If I’m not coachable and I stay set in my old ways of doing karate then I learn nothing new. The main question I have had to answer is simply, “Am I coachable enough to allow this new sensei to change my stance?” This has required me to listen and obey the sensei as he presents a different way of doing things.
I see an uncanny parallel with my stance being changed in karate and my stance being changed in life and ministry. I have been in a time of transition these past couple of years. Sending my oldest off to college to the other side of the country, as proud and exciting an event that is, catapulted me into a time of feeling loss. Shortly after that, we left the church home where my children grew up… the place where we did life and ministry for over 2 decades. These were healthy transitions, but the journey has been more difficult than expected. It’s like the hobbits’ journey in Tolkien’s ‘Lord of The Rings’ who left the security and comforts of the Shire to embark on an unscripted journey. The beginning is exciting and the hope of a successful expedition motivating amidst the unknown. But the journey takes longer and is more difficult than expected.
Being in unfamiliar territory can be uncomfortable and often jars the soul. I am and have been in unfamiliar territory. Not only has my stance been changing in karate, but I have realized that God has been changing my stance in life and ministry. The question He has asked me in the midst of it has been, “are you still coachable?” Am I so set in my ways that I am unwilling to allow the Lord to change me and change the way I do things? The un-coachable player on any sports team may have loads of talent, but won’t get the playing time he wants unless he surrenders his own objectives and agendas for the sake of the team. Jesus chose 12 disciples who were coachable and willing to change the way they did life and ministry for the sake of the One who called them. And the one disciple who wasn’t coachable? Let’s just say he got cut from the team.
As I purpose to be coachable in this new season of life I have to ask myself some important questions: Am I willing to change the way I lead? What I lead? Who I lead? Where? And yes, even why? Am I willing to change my stance as it relates to how I think about living life and doing ministry? About raising my kids? About loving my wife? Having my stance changed is awkward. I keep wanting to go back to what is familiar. That’s what is more comfortable and where I feel more confident. Is it possible that God wants me to put my confidence in HIM in the midst of what is unknown, unfamiliar territory, so that I cannot rely on my own abilities?
When God accomplishes His purposes in and through me in this awkward feeling, unfamiliar looking, uncharted pathway, it’s for His glory. In this season of life, I have experienced God and discovered His word in deeper ways than I believe would have been possible had I not been “coachable” to Him changing my stance. God’s desire is to transform His people to be more Christ – like and to accomplish His purposes through them. That will involve stepping out, taking risks, and going beyond our comfort zones. In the process it can be awkward, unsettling, and even terrifying. But in the end well worth the risk as He will take those who are willing ever so deeper in their experience with the Creator, King, and Savior of our souls.
So let me pose this question to you: are you coachable enough for God to change YOUR stance?