Tough Love

Coach's Corner Les Steckel
ave you ever wondered what it was like to see people as Christ saw them? Have you ever thought about His ability to love people unconditionally despite their sins and faults? I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine loving all people that way. It’s hard enough to love even a few people like that! And I can’t say that I’ve ever done it perfectly, not even with my wife. But Jesus sure could—and did.

I recently had an enlightening experience. A dear friend of mine had made a mistake—he knew he shouldn’t have done what he did, but that didn’t change the circumstances. He was still wrong. And because he was wrong, he was taking a verbal beating from several of our peers.

While all of this was going on—we were all in the same room during the confrontation—I experienced an emotion I’d never felt before. And it must have been the result of the Holy Spirit, because there’s no way I was capable of this on my own. But while I sat there listening to the verbal attacks on my friend, I felt the most overwhelming love for him I’d ever felt. I experienced no anger, no spite, no resentment toward him for his actions. All I felt was love. No matter what anyone in the room said about him, he was my friend, and I loved him. No one could change my mind.

Shortly after that encounter, the Lord really opened my eyes to see what I had experienced: seeing with the eyes of Jesus. Even if it was on a very small scale, I was still completely speechless and humbled that God had allowed me to feel such an emotion.

What is truly amazing, however, is that what I felt for just one friend, Christ felt for us all. From the cruelest of murderers to the pettiest of gossips to those filled with hate and greed, Christ loved everyone with an equal, unconditional, unsurpassing love.

The true challenge comes when we realize that, because Christ set the example, we are to follow His lead. I’m not proud that it took me so long to finally convey that kind of love, but I do hope to put it into practice more often. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

What about you? Do you have teammates, fellow coaches or family members who have deliberately wronged you? Do you find it hard to love them? You’re not alone. We all struggle with that. But just because it is difficult doesn’t mean we are allowed to stop trying.

In John 13:34, Jesus revealed His standard for us by saying, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” He didn’t say we should love others like we wanted to love them, or even to love others if we felt like it; He said that we were commanded to love as He loved: unconditionally.
At the end of these columns, I often challenge you to get in the Word, and this one is no different. This month, commit to searching the Bible to find out what it truly means to love like Christ. No, you won’t be able to do it alone. His love is too high for human effort to achieve. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, which our God so graciously gives to us, you will be blessed with everything you need to display that pure, untainted, Christ-like love.

Model the Master,
Les Steckel
FCA President/CEO