From the Coaches Corner: Work Hard and Be Coachable (Part One) by Jon Rocha



I love coaching the game of basketball. This was my first year as a head coach, and I was blessed to have the team I did. We had a great season and learned a ton of things together about playing, coaching, and living life. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on how the game of basketball brings out so many life lessons that we have to learn. I would like to continue now by sharing some of these life-lessons I’ve personally learned through the game.

This past season I always told my players, “If you can’t do anything right in the game of basketball, you can always work hard and be coachable. Those two things will get you a long way.” I’d never heard that from anyone before, but it is honestly one of the most important truths I’ve learned over the years as both a player and captain. In Part One, I will expound on what hard work looks like and in few weeks, I‘ll talk about being coachable.

In order to be a successful in life you must work hard. This seems like a “no-duh” statement…Everyone knows they need to work hard and most people would say they do work hard. What we say though, doesn’t always line up with reality. Do we actually work hard? What does it mean to work hard? Well here are three ways you can evaluate yourself to see if you do and also put some handles on what it means to work hard.

Never Give Up

There were many difficult games and many hard practices that would have been easy to give up! I was assistant coaching one of the JV games, and they were down by at least 20 at the end of the third quarter (if not more). Ashamedly, I gave up on the game and went into the locker room to talk to my team. I came back out and with 1 minute left they were down by 3… They ended up hitting a buzzer beater 3 and losing the game by 1 point. I couldn’t believe it, but I was ashamed of myself for giving up hope, and I applaud those guys for never giving up.

Everyone says that they are a fighter and they never give up, but it’s more than just getting to the end. Do you fight the whole way through? Do you finish what you started? Do you do, what you say you’re going to do? I am as guilty as anyone on this one! I love the idea of new things and starting new things; but it gets tough towards the middle to stay focused, at the end to stay detailed, and when things look grim on top of that. As believers, we get caught in these traps all too often. We start a Bible study and don’t finish it. We recommit to church attendance and fall off the radar. We repent but fall right back into sin. We can never give up though… We aren’t ever going to be perfect but we must finish our race that God has set before us. We have the Holy Spirit of God that lives inside of us that we need to rely on when we begin to wane.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might 

  • Ephesians 6:10

You might think you are too exhausted to come to church on Sunday. You might think you are too broken to serve in an area you have committed to. You might feel inadequate to teach a class. If God has given you the responsibility, then He will also give you the strength through His Spirit so He can receive the glory. We just can’t ever give up!

Love the Grind

You have to learn to love the grind. Hard work is just that, HARD WORK. It’s not meant to be easy, or else everyone would do it! This is one lesson that I have found to be incredibly valuable, but still fall very short in! In high school, I hated putting in the extra time to go work out and shoot hoops. I loved playing, but I didn’t love the practices, the weight room, and giving up personal time to get better. It wasn’t until college that I really saw it different. I couldn’t figure out how good players got so good. Were they born that way? Were they just that talented? I kept wondering, so I finally asked them how much extra time they put in during the off season. All of them without exception spent countless hours in the gym. So I started to do the same and at first it was daunting, difficult, and I didn’t even really know what to do. I just started doing it, then I got better at it and soon I began to love it! To this day it is a joy for me to go lift some weights and do some drills. I love the grind!

As believers, we have to love the grind! We have to love getting up early to read our Bibles. We have to love fasting during our lunch break. We have to love leading our families in worship all week. We have to love serving in our church. There are lots of things God is calling us to do that are difficult and we have to learn to love them. Start by just doing them, then by get good at them, and then enjoy the reward of the hard labor! It’s biblical concept. Look at what Solomon says:

Here is what I have seen to be good: It is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward.

  • Ecclesiastes 5:18

Give 100% in Everything 

The key word here is everything. It is so easy to give something your all when you like it, when there is a big payout, or when people are watching. Everyone in basketball wants to work hard at 3 pointers and dribbling… because they like it and there is big payout. But often times when drills don’t include those elements players will take breaks. In the long run, however, it will hurt themselves and their team, because they aren’t getting better and they aren’t well rounded.

It is typically easy to work hard at all the stuff you like or that has big payout at work, church, and home.

Do you perform all of your work tasks to the best of your ability? Do you serve in areas you don’t like, but are needed? Do you do all the small things at home that need to be done (discipling your family, keeping up on your house, loving your spouse)? Everyone gives 100% at something, but not everyone gives 100% in everything. This is a true sign of hard work. Do you give 100% even in the things that you think don’t matter or you don’t like?

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

  • Colossians 3:23

As believers we have something much bigger at stake than our current well-being– we have a reward much greater that is coming! Never forget that we work hard for His glory and not our own.


Guest Blogger: Rest Because You Can by Jonathan Parnell

Stop making bricks — you can stop.

Because of who God is, this reality rings as true today as it did in the life of ancient Israel, dating all the way back to their slave labor in Egypt just before the exodus.

The hysteria of that exodus is meant to distance us from the deplorable conditions of Israel’s servitude, not distract us from their significance in the story of God’s salvation. But chances are, by the time we get to Exodus 20, after walking through the plagues and crossing the Red Sea, we’re prone to forget the impossible workload that was shackled to Israel’s feet.

Therefore, God reminds us, as a preface to the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lᴏʀᴅ your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). This deliverance reverberates throughout the entire Bible as the key moment in the Old Testament where God’s faithfulness was put on display. It is the dramatic, identity-shaping act where God, through his mighty works, calls his people to himself — and away from Egypt.

Remember Egypt

So what was Egypt like, again?

It was bricks — more bricks, all day, everyday. It was work, work, work, an infatuation with the bottom line, with no restraints on how to get there (Exodus 5:4–9). It was about production, not flourishing; strict commerce, not neighborly love. It was about the commodity of idols, not the imaging of God. In other words, it was a world in opposition to humanity’s purpose — and one not too unlike sectors of our society today.

Ancient Egypt, like many modern cultures, was itself enslaved to a merry-go-round economy — one whose value is measured by its size and speed, one whose passengers keep yelling “faster, faster, faster,” one whose bars, once you grab hold of and start pushing, you mustn’t let go. Run and keep running. Push and keep pushing.

And then, on the other side, simultaneous to the endless churning and mulling and doing to be bigger, better, and more popular, is the insatiable buying and earning and trading to get bigger, better, and more popular things. The result is restlessness. Old Testament scholar Walter Bruegemann writes that this creates “a society of 24/7 multitasking in order to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess” (Sabbath As Resistance, Locations 88–92). He explains that “the rat race of such predation and usurpation is a restlessness” that twists and turns throughout all of life, leaving an aftermath of inescapable anxiety that is often unmanageable. Which is to say, unbearable. It is a weight that leads people to do unthinkable things like jump off bridges and sacrifice their children, whether literal or metaphorical.

And all of it, in essence, says something about the deity under whom they live.

So Says the Deity

As Bruegemann shows, Egypt’s relentless drive to produce points to the commitment of their gods. The gods of Egypt were as devoted to the aggrandizement of Pharaoh’s system as anyone because Pharaoh’s glory meant their glory. They demanded to be served by human hands because they needed the good promotion. There was a void to be filled, an ever-increasing glory quota that had to be met, and therefore, there was no time for stopping.

It is against this background that we’re to understand the meaning of Sabbath. Our English word “Sabbath” is simply a transliteration of the original Hebrew which means “rest” — first appearing in verb form in Genesis 2:2, “and [God] rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” It later became a prescribed observance to the people of Israel upon their exodus (Exodus 20:8). But far beyond a mere command to his people, the Sabbath is meant to say something powerful about God himself.

God, as we see in creation, isn’t a deity wringing his sweaty hands in panic, trying to milk dry every last drop of what’s there. No. He speaks and it comes to be, out of nothing, and he does it in six days, resting on the seventh just because he can. He wants us to know, right from the start and in the rhythms of our lives, that he doesn’t need anything. He is the one who works, in perfect precision, neither too little nor too much, and we exist to bask in his glory, not barter for its increase. We exist to magnify his radiance, not supplement his worth.

And because this is the case, in a world where everyone’s deity says to do, do, do, the God of Israel says to stop. The air we breathe of this fallen world is anxiety: Keep busy and stay nervous. And it’s into this mess, striking through the smog like flashes of lightening, the fundamental message of God’s salvation resounds: Trust me and rest.

Then Stop

The principle of Sabbath is a glorious picture of God’s self-sufficiency and unwavering ability to provide. As God’s people, our rest becomes “a decisive, concrete, visible way of opting for and aligning with the God of rest” (Location 278). Perhaps as much now as in that early biblical context, one of the most head-turning, soul-stirring moves we make as a witness to God’s holiness is when we stop.

At night when we go to bed, on a whole day when we pause our projects, in a season of vacation or Sabbatical, our stopping work is our saying Enough! to the merry-go-round. We don’t have to ride this thing. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9–10). Rest, then, becomes our regular dramatization of the heart of the gospel: “To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith will be counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

We can put down our tools. We can close our computers. We can forbid those thoughts about that next meeting or those emails waiting for a reply or how the numbers aren’t as high as we’d like. We can stop and trust him who justifies the ungodly. We can trust that when Jesus died in our place on the cross, he died to destroy all the anxieties of our lack, to still our ceaseless striving, to hush the winds of our self-justifying labor, to irrevocably connect us to the abundance of his grace we possess by his work, not ours.

We can trust the Lord of Rest who came to give us rest, and say, because of who he is: Stop making bricks — you can stop.


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Pastor, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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The Moment Crisis Happens…


“Crisis: (Noun) a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger…a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.” Ever been there? I can almost guarantee that if you are over the age of 12, you’ve experienced some sort of crisis moment in your life. In fact, think back to that moment. Remember all the feelings that rushed in? Anger. Why me? Sadness. What now? Helplessness. Where do we go from here?

Indeed, do you remember the news that helped erupt these emotions? Perhaps it was the death of a loved one, an aggressive cancer report, the loss of a job, an unexpected big bill, the betrayal of a friend, or something just completely tragic. These moments of news, accompanied with all our heightened emotions, can be overwhelming and exhausting.

In fact, isn’t it amazing how vulnerable and fragile these crisis moments can make us feel? It’s as if everything is trucking along just fine and then WHAM, your whole world is turned upside down. Indeed, so many things can catch us by surprise and throw off our equilibrium…and if your experiences are anything like my experiences, you usually experience a wave of three big things in a row.

For me, what makes these crisis moments so difficult to grapple with is not only are you trying to process the news, and calm your emotions down, but you’re often expected to and/or need to make important decisions right away. It’s as if you simultaneously want to slow down the clock, in order to make the wisest decisions, and speed up the clock, in order to get onto the next season of life, which, hopefully, will be better than your current season.

So, crisis happens. Your emotions heighten. You feel like doing nothing, but are expected to do everything, to include make important decisions. Here are three important things to do before you make those important decisions…

  1. Check Your Vital Signs – Like a good healthcare professional, you need to figure out if your baseline is healthy. What are the vital signs to monitor? First, quickly assess your own personal walk with the Lord. Have you been reading your Bible? Have you been spending time with God in prayer? What is the one truth, that you recently read or studied, that you’re clinging to right now? If need be, repent of sin and reassure yourself of God’s love and mercy toward you. Second, determine if the people closest to you are united with you. In other words, how are the different relationships in your life going? Is your spouse, staff members, and/or close friends united around you? Thirdly and finally, determine if your physical health is on par to handle the stress and emotions of your crisis moment. Indeed, moments of difficulty and crisis are not a time to let up on proper eating habits, your workout routine, and sleep patterns. Maintain these good habits as best as you can during these moments of hardship. Your mind and body will thank you in the long run.
  2. Beware of Sinful Decompression – In your moment of stress and difficulty, you will greatly crave a pressure release. This is not necessarily a bad thing to crave in your moment of crisis, but beware of sinful decompression (i.e. porn, gluttony, drunkenness, gossip, etc.). Who or what you look to for comfort and release, in your moment of crisis, is so incredibly important.  In fact, let me speak plainly, your crisis moment does not give you the right or freedom to sin. Your temptations to sin, amid your pain, are not sinful, but giving into these urges is wrong and sinful. Your moment of crisis, far from a get out of jail free card to sin, is a clarion call to buckle down, trust the Lord, and remind yourself of God’s incredible promises to you. Don’t know of any promises? Search the Scriptures or ask your pastor or godly friend for help.
  3. Ask Somebody to Pray – Chances are you won’t be in the mood to pray when you’re in a moment of crisis, but you need God’s gift of prayer more than ever. Thus, ask people you trust to pray for you. Indeed, have them pray with you and for you. In fact, I often ask friends who are far away from me to pray with me and for me over the phone. How comforting and encouraging it is to have people intercede before the Throne of Grace on your behalf! Yes, have different people pray for you (i.e. your spouse, pastor, friend, or colleague). You need the prayer from them and they need the opportunity to minister to you by means of prayer. At the end of those prayers, thank them for praying with you and for you and reassure yourself that God has heard, God knows, and God will respond.

Here’s the bottom line: crisis moments happen to everybody. Yes, bad things happen to good people all of the time. Remember Jesus and what happened to Him? So, in your moment of crisis, remember that God is good, faithful, and trustworthy. Rehearse the promises of God to yourself. And, yes, decisions, will need to be made, but don’t forget to do at least these three basic things above. Once you do, move forward in confidence that God is still working in you and through you and all for His glory and your ever-increasing joy.