Jesus is the ultimate life-changer. He was a force for good in every single life he touched. From healing the blind and the deaf, to feeding four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a small fish, to teaching how to serve and love others, he never failed to change other people’s lives for the better, both physically and spiritually.
… Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. And anyone who wants to be first must be your slave. Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.
Matthew 20:26-28 NIRV
The Bible calls us to live as Jesus did. That means sacrificing time, money, energy, and even your life for others. Jesus not only constantly changed people’s lives, but he also had vision for who people could become and was willing to speak the truth to them in love. When we are changing people’s lives we are the most happy and fulfilled.
In his Sports Illustrated article “The Brilliance of Ron Adams: The Coach’s Coach,”” Robert Mahoney highlights the humble devotion and impenetrable work philosophy of veteran NBA assistant coach Ron Adams, who is currently coaching for our 2016-2017 World Champions (go Warriors!).
Adams works very hard to be a force for good in other people’s lives, and especially in the lives of those he coaches. As we discuss changing others’ lives for the better, having vision for others, and speaking the truth in love, we can look at Adams’ life as a powerful example of what happens when we live a serving life.
Changing Others for the Better
Anyone who gives a lot will succeed. Anyone who renews others will be renewed.
Proverbs 11:25 NIRV
In order to change others for the better, we have to be willing to give. Too often, it becomes easy to give all of our time to things that only benefit ourselves. For those that are driven to help others, their impact is powerful.
Mahoney observes, “Investing in others and what they’re capable of is what drives Adams.”
Adams is willing to listen to the players, learn their strengths, and help them become the best version of themselves. He takes the time to figure out how to not only make the players better athletes, but better people.
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Mark 1:16-18 NLT
This small exchange was one of the most powerful interactions Jesus had in his lifetime. Jesus was willing to talk in a way that Simon and Andrew would understand. He spoke in terms of fishing, something very prominent in their lives. He was willing to speak to their strengths in order to spark in them the belief that they could do so much more with their lives than just fishing. Jesus called them to a bigger purpose, not only changing their own lives for good but inspiring them to change other people’s lives for the better as well.
Adams asserts, “Joy, I think, in this life, is always brought to us by others.” Mahoney adds, “The brilliance is, no one can take that joy away from him.”
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.””
Matthew 16:13-19 NLT
Jesus was a powerful force for good in the life of Simon, who became Peter. As Simon, he was impulsive, acted irrationally, had a lot of doubt, and was hesitant to help or serve anyone but himself. Even though Simon had so many different flaws, Jesus had a vision for him. He saw him completely differently, a new person even. He saw him as Peter. Jesus believed that Simon could change his life so much that he would be worthy of a new name. Jesus believed that Simon could change his life so much that he would be worthy of the “keys to the Kingdom” or the wisdom to teach others the things that Jesus had come to teach. Simon, a selfish soul, was able to transform into Peter, the rock, all because Jesus took the time to care for him, to envision himself as a new person, and shared it with him.
Mahoney shares, “And sometimes, the possibilities that Adams sees in players can be monumental… There were many other voices involved, but the Warriors are champions because of his perspective.”
Adams was able to see different visions of the Golden State Warriors. He was able to see each of the players in their own spotlight. He was able to see the best version of each player and was willing to put in the work to make them that player. The first step to that is having vision for them.
Do you have vision for anyone in your life? If not, who is someone that you can develop a vision for and be willing to help them fulfill that vision?
Speaking the Truth in Love
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16 MSG
God wants us to tell each other truth, but not in a way that tears others down. He wants us to speak the truth in a way that is loving, in a way that builds others up and helps them live out the full potential for their lives.
Long-term friend and previous co-worker, Tom Thibodeau, offers ample praise of Adams, “You can count on him to be a truth-teller and I really respected that about him. I think it builds great trust. […] He’s been the exact same guy. You can count on Ron. And that’s probably the most important thing, to be able to count on someone each and every day.”
What we can learn from Adams is that telling people the truth in love can only end in success. Adams was willing to build his players up, to tell them hard truths, and to break bad habits so that they were able to grow. And without a doubt, they grew. And they became NBA Champions.
What we can learn from the Bible that in order to become a force for good, you have to change people’s lives for the better, spend time developing a vision for someone and share it with them, and speak the truth you see about them in love. Doing these things will not only make their life better, but it will refresh you, allow you to see your true purpose, and really make the most of your time and help transform others into their best self. What Ron Adams learned is that when you put these principles into practice it makes you a force for good, at the same time bringing joy and satisfaction to your own life.