“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes
knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6, ESV)
Skating is a great teacher for discovering spiritual faith, because one of the first things you learn as a skater is that you can’t do it alone. You need a coach you respect and trust, who speaks your language and relates to you emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
I’ve seen a lot of bad coaches. I am not talking about not-good coaches, but downright bad coaches who would be abusive and hit their skaters with their skate guards, play all kinds of head games, even those who would walk away from the boards if their students didn’t skate well. There are also great coaches who are like another set of parents whom you rely on for everything.
Good coaches are good because they give their students the right information at the right time and let them take it from there. The best coaches gave me guidance, instruction, direction and information then allowed me to carry it out.
In 1979, I signed Don Laws as my skating coach. It was a pivotal moment in my career. The first thing Don did was lay down the law. He told me, “You’re going to work, and you’re going to be disciplined.”
The first thing Don and I did publicly as pupil and master was at the annual Professional Skaters Guild of America conference. During the huge banquet, I was sitting at a table when Don got up to speak. He said, “I’m sure you’re all aware that I have taken on a new student. Just so you all know, there’s a new direction, there’s a new commitment, and there’s a new philosophy.” Those were his exact words. He continued, “We will not be a comedian on the ice anymore; we are going to be very focused and hardworking.” And he looked at me with that look that said, “Aren’t we, Scott?”
I was flush with embarrassment, but I knew why he did it. He was letting everybody know that this was the direction he expected me to take, and now I was going to have more eyes on me than since he made that announcement. He knew how to push my motivational buttons. Plus, Don believed in me and was willing to give me all of his attention because he saw my potential. He gave me the road map and I followed it. Where do you want me? How much do you want me to skate? What days? I let him guide me because I trusted him and his commitment to me.
The following year I made the Olympic team, carrying the American flag at the opening ceremonies of the Lake Placid games. I then went from October 1980 through March 1984 without suffering a single defeat. In that stretch, I won four consecutive National and World titles and in 1984 won the Olympic Gold Medal at the games in Sarajevo.
Don was the perfect coach for me at that time. We were truly a divine pairing.
Ken Durham, my spiritual coach, is much like Don. Ken just gives the information from the Bible for me to apply to my life and situation. Ken says one of the most remarkable things about Christianity is its conviction that God cares so much about us that He has, in Christ, come to meet us within our own history. History is both God’s story and ours, together. And because God is so deeply interested in sharing our story with us, He has seen to it that everything we need to know about Him, about each other, and about ourselves is right there in front of us.
It’s amazing how many times you hear someone say, “You know, I was at a crossroads. I was really struggling, and I just picked up the Bible and I couldn’t believe that it spoke to exactly where I was that day.”
That’s what coaching is all about. It’s guidance. The teachings of Christianity include spiritual coaching that helps you live the best life you possibly can. You’re going to be presented with problems, whether it’s relationship issues, job stress, financial difficulties or traffic, every single day of your life. It’s amazing the difference God can make; all you have to do is just allow Him to guide you.
God is the Almighty Coach. He always has all the information right there in front of us at the right time. It’s all there; we just need to open our eyes, minds, and hearts.
Talk through your problems with God. If you don’t feel like you know God well enough to talk to Him, don’t let it stop you from talking to Him because He certainly knows you! Focus on the relationship with God, and let Him coach you in all of your circumstances.
“God, You know (describe your circumstances in detail). Please give me the wisdom and understanding I need today. Thank You for Your guidance. Amen.”
Adapted from Scott Hamilton’s book The Great Eight.