Changing behavior from the inside out

If we want to change our inner self, we cannot do it by wishing it to be so. We have to actively pursue it. To correct an outward behavior we don’t like, we have to attack its source. That source is our heart. If our heart has taken a bad direction for a while, the only way to “fix” it is to give it a different direction to go in. We can’t get rid of a bad behavior by just trying to stop that behavior. We have to replace it with a good behavior. Once again, we have to change the heart first to go on this new path otherwise our efforts will be fruitless. We have to imagine the new behavior we want and then start practicing it just like we would any other skill we want to learn. We are apprenticing to Christ here and if you were apprenticing to a master of any skill, you would emulate them doing it until you master that skill. Jesus teaches us that in the example about washing the inside of the glass and that the outside will get clean in the process. (Matt 23:26)

Apprenticing is a long and arduous task. It does not happen overnight. We did not develop our bad attitudes overnight and they will not be transformed overnight. We must pull up beside our Master and ask him to guide us in this journey. He longs to complete this task in us so He will be glad to be there every step of the way.

If you’re angry with someone. Instead of thinking of all the things they’ve done to harm you, imagine Christ beside them and how He loves them. How would He reconcile this situation? First off, He wouldn’t be mad at them. He loves them when they do right and when they do wrong. That is the definition of grace. How can you extend this same grace to them? First forgive them for what they have done then do the most loving for them. Pray for them. Pray that they come to love and serve Christ in the way He wants them to. That is the best life for anybody so it must be for them too. You’ve now replaced bad intentions for good ones (with God’s help). Do this over and over for them and others.

If you lust for someone, imagine Christ in between the two of you. That makes it really hard to lust now with Him in the picture doesn’t it? Now pray that God will help you see this person as He does and love them as He does from the inside out not from the outside in as you have been doing.

When we apply this to coaching, we want to replace a bad behavior with a good one instead of just yelling at someone and telling them not to do that anymore. We must give them a positive behavior and drill it into them until it’s a habit.

If we want them to be respectful, we teach them how. All coaches will be referred to as Coach or Sir. Proper responses are yes sir, yes Coach _____. If they give a proper response then the relationship is as we want it and we can positively reinforce that in many ways. If they don’t give a proper response then they do pushups or some other form of punishment until the response is automatic. They must understand that our desire to change their behavior comes from a point of love otherwise it will be interpreted as meanness towards them. Remember to change behavior we must first change their heart so that the desire to do right lives there first. If we try to change just the behavior then we are imparting a type of legalism on them that Jesus warned the Pharisees about.

If we want them to not commit a holding penalty in a game then we need to teach them how to block without holding. Teach hand and shoulder placement without grasping the opponent’s jersey. Punish when they don’t achieve this and reward with praise when they do achieve this. So many coaches try to teach how to hold without getting caught and then are amazed when their guy gets called for holding. You taught him to hold so he did! Don’t be amazed when he gets caught. They have to intend not to hold without trying because that’s all they know. They only know the right way because that’s all they’ve been taught.

If we want our players to not jump offsides, we must teach them to focus while in their stances instead of telling them the negative “don’t jump”.

When trying to correct a negative behavior, first imagine that behavior as it is when it is positively exhibited then come up with a way to teach that and to drill it until they do it from the heart. This is real coaching and not just screaming out of frustration.

These thoughts come from my present study of “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard.