Growing up, one of the things my dad always reminded me was to be coachable. He wanted me to listen to instruction, to not be hard headed or uncooperative, and to be humble enough to make changes even if they are difficult.
Lately, I have wondered if I was being coachable in my Christian spiritual life?
Was I pausing to listen to Jesus’ teaching and be ready to put it into action? Was I considering his guidance worthy of my time and attention or was I seeking after other voices and teachings? Did I fall into the false narrative that Jesus is just talking about eternal things and not necessarily about the present and the here and now?
We are being coached whether we are aware of it or not. What we watch, who we follow on social media, the conversations we find ourselves in, and the podcasts we are listening to are coaching us in living. We often embrace these coaching moments with enthusiasm and hunger as we binge media, YouTube videos, and Instagram stories. There are lessons being passed to us that we might not even be aware of. But none of these coaches are the Word of God. None of these coaches are the truth. None of these coaches are the way.
In a well known passage, Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus’ use of the word yoke here has a double meaning. First, there is the yoke that is fastened to a large animal like an ox. Farmers would often take an inexperienced animal and yoke it, connect and tie it, to an experienced and knowledgeable animal. The younger, less experienced animal would learn from the experienced animal what direction to drive the plow, how fast to go, and what needs to happen next. Jesus wants us to yoke ourselves to him because there is much to learn and it will make your burden much less difficult.
The other meaning that Jesus had for the word yoke is as a metaphor for his teaching. The rabbi of Jesus’ day would often wear their yoke, their teaching, around their neck. Jesus wants the hearers to take his teaching and put it on so that we can learn from that teaching. His teaching is for life and when we place it around our necks we learn his ways and his point of view and it changes everything.
So how do we become more coachable in our Christian life? First, we ask to be taught. Jesus didn’t always find a street corner and just start teaching to the air hoping someone would listen. He was often just responding to questions and then teaching. He wants us to ask him how to do things – forgive, love our enemies, bless those who curse us, pray. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. “
Second, we have to follow his command and take his teaching, his yoke, upon us. We have to try it on and try it out. We have to start putting feet and hands to our education and see for ourselves. The Christian life is an experiential life that Jesus intends for us to live out in the present and among the people in front of us.
The difference between being coachable with Jesus’ teaching is the difference between a house that can withstand storms and high waves and the house that crumbles at the slightest strain and difficulty. Which house would you rather have?
Let Jesus coach you. You don’t have all the answers and the thousands of people trying to teach you things may be brilliant but they are not the image of the invisible God, the first born of Creation. Be coachable and see the peace, the light burden, the rest that is possible with Jesus.