Finding a balance between emulating Christ's love and not worrying about others' opinions can be a heavy task for Christian coaches and athletes. I have felt the tension of wanting to set a positive example while also worrying about potential criticism or judgments—it’s human nature.
What helps me find balance is remembering that my worth and identity don't come from others but from a higher purpose. I try to follow Galatians 1:10, which reminds us not to seek approval from people but to please God. This means that although I want to be a positive influence, I can't base my self-worth on pleasing or impressing others.
My interactions with others are grounded in prioritizing my spiritual relationship, which allows me to maintain a healthy balance. Additionally, I strive to cultivate self-confidence and a sense of security in my identity, challenging negative self-talk and exploring new approaches (hence my website). When things get tough, I rely on faith to provide the strength and resilience to stay grounded. If I’ve learned anything in my recent past— this is it.
Let’s take it back a few thousand years and look at Saul—the first king of Israel. To understand our present and future we must understand our past, right? He was known for being preoccupied with what other people thought of him. Throughout his reign, he constantly sought validation from his subjects rather than focusing on his leadership duties. For example, when Samuel (prophet) rebuked Saul for not fully carrying out God’s commandments in battle, Saul was more concerned with how the people would view him rather than admitting his mistake and seeking forgiveness from God.
Saul’s preoccupation with public opinion also led him to make poor decisions that ultimately led to his downfall. When he failed to wait for Samuel to offer a sacrifice before a battle, Samuel criticized Saul for not obeying God’s commands. Instead of recognizing his error and seeking forgiveness, Saul defended his actions to the people.
Saul's preoccupation with public opinion caused him to prioritize his image and reputation over his leadership duty. This ultimately led to his removal as king and the end of his reign. The statement about Saul's preoccupation with public opinion can relate to contemporary Christians who may prioritize maintaining a particular public persona or image over how God perceives them. Just as Saul's focus on his reputation led to his downfall as a leader, Christians prioritizing their public persona over God's perception of them may compromise their values and ultimately harm their relationship with God.
Some contemporary examples of Christians being preoccupied with public persona could include:
On TikTok, Christians might prioritize crafting a particular image or aesthetic that will gain them more followers or likes rather than sharing content that is true to their beliefs or would honor God.
In the world of fashion, Christians may prioritize dressing in a way that is provocatively or inappropriately to garner attention rather than dressing in a way that honors God.
When it comes to gossip or speaking about others, Christians may prioritize maintaining their reputation by not speaking out against wrongdoing or issues they see rather than standing up for what is right and speaking truthfully.
In conclusion, Christian athletes and coaches must balance pleasing others and following Christ's example. We shouldn't base our self-worth on impressing others but instead focus on our spiritual relationship and good God. Examples from Saul's story show how prioritizing public opinion over God's perception can lead to poor leadership and compromise of values. Contemporary Christians must be mindful of how they present themselves in various contexts and prioritize honoring God.